This City Was Built With "Bullets"

Alex WatleyCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2009

1 Nov 1996:  Forward Juwan Howard of the Washington Bullets in action on the court as he takes an opportunity to rest during a break in the action of the Bullets 96-92 victory over the Orlando Magic at the Orlanod Arena in Orlando, Florida.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Bear with me, this is my first attempt at writing for the Bleacher Report!



I feel the need to make this personal.


I was 8 years old. It was time to go back to school, and my mother, who never bought ANYTHING that was name-brand, got me a gift I never forgot.

A Washington Bullets hoody.

May not seem like much, but it was important to me. I spent my childhood in northern VA. The home team means a lot here. Walking into school wearing anything that said Redskin, Oriole, Capital or Bullet was a badge of honor. And now, I was a part of it.

When it finally got cold enough to wear it, I paraded it into school like I was a first round draft pick. That afternoon, my older sister picked me up from the bus stop, and witnessed my “seven-year-old home team pride” firsthand. The conversation went something like this:

Her: Did mom buy you a Bullet’s shirt?
Me: Uh-huh.
Her: You like the Bullet’s, huh?
Me: Yep!
Her: Yeah, me too. The Bullet’s are kickin’!

Then there was a pause

Me: …… they kick the ball instead of bouncing it?


Ok, so I wasn’t that quick on the uptake as a kid. But it got me watching more games.  And pretty soon, after understanding that they’re not kicking the ball, I was hooked. I am a lifelong Bullet’s fan. Yes. I said Bullet’s.  Notice I didn’t say Wizards. This is because I agree with a very large amount of people in the DC area: THE NAME SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN CHANGED! Now I know this sounds insensitive in the wake of the death of Abe Pollin, but I think it’s important to clear up a few things from both sides of this argument. So let me see if I can provide a voice to this angry mob:


If you poll the DC area, it’s pretty obvious that the majority of the fans want the team to be the Bullet’s again. Honestly, most people didn’t want the name to change in the first place. If you are an NBA fan, or just in the area in the mid-90’s, you know the story. Pollin decided the name had taken on violent overtones, made worse by the fact that DC, at the time, had one of the largest homicide rates in the country. Fair enough. So they held a contest in the area to think of a new name. WIZARD’S was chosen. And that’s what they’ve been called ever since. It made a lot of people unhappy, but the owner was happy. And let’s be honest, his happiness is all that matters in the long run. He could have named them the “D.C. Puppy-Beaters” and there wouldn’t have been a darn thing we could do about it. Stupid decisions by management rarely, if ever, stop ticket sales. Ask the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.


In any case, we now have a clear understanding of why the name was changed. But let’s look at this from all angles. First of all, there have been PLENTY of names over the years that have offended people. The Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs are still in litigation with various Native American tribes because their names are deemed to be offensive. But those names aren’t going to change anytime soon. Besides that, people tend to forget that the name “Wizards” was highly contested because of its relationship to the Klu Klux Klan. But Abe Pollin, very intelligently, said : “If you look at any name long enough, you can find something bad about it.” I completely agree. But why, I ask, wasn’t that logic used to justify the name “Bullet’s”? After all, Abe was Jewish. Surely, he would recognize the issues of being associated with the KKK. The reason is simple: Wizard’s bothered the public. Bullet bothered Abe. And Abe’s opinion was the only one that mattered.


The other problem is the color scheme. The colors and jerseys seem to change every season. Navy Blue, Gold, Black, Silver, White…what was wrong with red, white and blue? I understand that we were trying to match up with the other Washington team, the Capitals of the NHL(also owned by Pollin at the time)…but come on! You’re in the nation’s capital! Red, white and blue make perfect sense. Even the Cap’s went back to those colors in 2007. I mean, I guess going burgundy and gold would have been worse, but let’s not go there right now.


So we understand why the name was changed, and why it makes people unhappy. But, opinions aside, let’s take a logical look at the situation. The name is going to be Wizards this season. And next season. After that? Who knows. Abe Pollin hasn’t been dead for a month yet. Even if new owner, Ted Leonsis, had the moxie to change everything right now. First and foremost, the NBA would never allow it. They wouldn’t want to be anywhere close to the bad press Leonsis would receive for going against an icon like Pollin, even if he was making the “right” decision. Second, the Pollin family still “technically” owns the team, and probably will throughout the season. And the thought of an immediate reversal of something Pollin spent so much time on is downright insensitive, even to me. Remember when Dan Snyder bought the Redskins? One of the first things he did was change “Jack Kent Cooke Stadium” to “FedEx Field”. It generated $207 Million for the team, and people STILL thought it was disrespectful.


The bottom line is there really isn’t a right answer. If Leonsis changes the name back to Bullet’s, it’ll make a lot of people happy and a lot of people mad. If he doesn’t change it, it’ll probably have the same result. But what both sides of the argument need to realize is that nothing is going to happen tomorrow. Whatever the decision will be, it’ll take some time. But Mr. Leonsis, I have just one request. I’m still going to pull for my team, and go to the games I can afford to go to. Whatever you decide to do, you’re going to get my money. So I ask of you…I BEG of you…can we PLEASE change the colors back to Red, White and Blue??? PLEASE?????? They look SO much better! The navy blue is stale, and on those rare nights when we don the black and gold, we look like we’re owned by GoldFinger from the James Bond movies! You don’t want to be known as GoldFinger, do you? DO YOU?


Ok, I’m done. I said what I wanted to say. Now, I have to go back to searching eBay for an adult sized Washington Bullet’s hoody…