Wes Unseld, Bobby Dandridge, Elvin Hayes (“the Big E!”)
Kevin Porter, Mitch Kupchack, Kevin Grevey
Joe Pace, Larry Wright, Charles Johnson (“C.J.”)
Do you know these names? You should. For three years of my youth (1977-1979), the Washington Bullets were the dominant team in the NBA. They won the championship in 1978 — the Year the Fat Lady Sang. Yes, I have the tee shirt.
To do that, they beat the San Antonio Spurs, featuring George “the Iceman” Gervin, and then the Philadelphia 76ers, with Julius Erving and Darryl Dawkins, in the Eastern Conference. In the finals, they beat Seattle in seven games.
(In the song “Bullets Fever”, the sequence went as follows ….”Bullets Fever. Happens to me Every Night. Bullets Fever. And this one’s the One. Bullets Fever. Got the Doctor and the Iceman. Seattle was stung!”)
A year later, the Bullets were back. Down 3-1, they came back to beat the Spurs again in the playoffs. Did the same to Philly. (Did you know that Bobby D outplayed Dr.J?) Exhausted by these superlative efforts, they lost in the finals to Seattle.
Shortly thereafter, the team was broken up and the run was over.
In 1997, in a truly baffling and pointless move, the owner of the Bullets changed the name to “the Wizards.” The old Bullets were forgotten. The 1978 championship team — the first championship in D.C. since the 1924 Senators — was not recognized.
Does anyone know where the Big E is today?
(Props to Kentucky’s Kevin Grevey who owns “Grevey’s” restaurant in Merrifield, on the eastern edge of the 34th SD. Once he crossed half-court, his jumper was in range).
This year, basketball may return to D.C. in a meaningful way. John Wall is the most exciting player we’ve had since …. Rex Chapman? For the first time, the team has a potential core of young players who can win.
But nothing will change until the “Wizards” name is dropped and the true name restored. Until that time, the franchise will continue to get no respect — because they don’t respect their own tradition.
Owner Ted Leonsis is a great owner for the Caps. He has (impossibly) made Washington a hockey town. Changing the basketball team back to the “Bullets” would bring a wave of positive feeling from old school sports fans in this town. And there are a lot.
The argument that the name “Bullets” encourages gun violence is ludicrous. (By that logic, the name “Raiders” would encourage pillaging of coastal towns in California. Actually, that’s an interesting concept).
I have been involved in the court system for 17 years. I’ve dealt with violent cases, both civilly and criminally. I don’t ever remember a defendant stating “the nickname made me do it.” Please.
Regardless, in a concession to the weepy warriors of political correctness, owner Leonsis could change the name back to Bullets for a “throwback” season. See if violence spontaneously erupts around the City or suburbs. Assuming we can all control ourselves, then accept the inevitable — and make the change permanent.
I may be the first elected official in our area to call for this. Don’t let me be the last.
Bring Back the Bullets!