Why the Washington Wizards Name Change To Bullets Would Be a Total Misfire

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterOctober 8, 2010

New Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has compiled a list of 101 things, asked for by Wizards fans, that he plans to address now that he's in control of the team.

This is an incredibly thoughtful gesture by the new owner, and Washington fans should be grateful to have someone who listens to their wants, and actually does something about it.

While some may not seem like much (more organ music, fresher popcorn, colder beer) there was one in particular that stood out.

No. 31. Change Wizards’ team name to Bullets

While the "What we're doing" section has this listed as "under consideration", it appears Leonsis is open to a change back to the old name, and has publicly stated that the Wizards will be going back to their old red, white and blue color scheme next year.

While the color change would be fine, a name change would be a disastrous move.

While many of us remember when they made the change from the Bullets to the Wizards in 1997, but not everyone knows the story behind this change.

In 1995, then Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin stated that he planned on changing the team name to something other than the Bullets because of the violent overtone it possessed. 

I was only eight at the time, but it seems like DC was a rough town in the 1990's and Pollin didn't want fans to associate gun violence with his basketball team.

Whoops.

Fast forward to 2009 where the Wizards had high hopes for a fourth seed in the eastern conference playoffs with a healthy Gilbert Arenas and new coach Flip Saunders.  Mike Miller and Randy Foye were brought on board along with a core of Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood.

Washington gets off to a rough start and the season is halted on Dec. 24, where Arenas admitted to storing unloaded firearms in his locker.

Arenas not only violated team rules but D.C. ordinances as well.

On Jan. 1, 2010 reports surfaced that Arenas and Javaris Crittenton had an argument regarding gambling debts and that both of them were carrying unloaded guns into the Wizards locker room.

Arenas was later charged and pleaded guilty to the felony of carrying an unlicensed pistol outside a home or business. Commisoner David Stern suspended Arenas for the rest of the season without pay, saying that "his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game."

The Wizards playoff aspirations were ruined and the team traded away Butler, Jamison and Haywood.  Washington was a mess, finishing dead last in the Southeast division with a 26-56 record.

The Wizards were once again associated with the very thing Abe Pollin fought to rid the team of.

Guns and potential violence were brought into what was suppose to be a family friendly environment.  Attendance dropped along with the teams record, and a recently successful basketball franchise was at a crossroads, tarnished in both image and pride.

However, Washington made the first step to restoring it's image by taking John Wall with the first overall pick in June's NBA draft.

This was crucial as it gave the franchise a new identity, a fresh face that the fans could come back to and cheer for. 

Ted Leonsis is obviously making great customer service strides, trying to prove that a Wizards game is once again something you can be proud to bring your family to.

Why ruin what you're trying to build by bringing back a team name that is directly related to the very thing that destroyed your image just a season ago?

Last time I checked, Gilbert Arenas and his $111 million contract were still on the team.  Until he starts scoring 20 points a game again people will primarily associate him with last seasons fiasco.

Gun violence is a major issue in today's world and we don't need anything else to promote it, especially not an NBA franchise that is already known for its run ins with firearms.

If you want to change the team name to something different that's fine, but Pollin changed it once for a reason.

A change back to Bullets would be a complete misfire.

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