I was only 8-years old when it happened. The Baltimore Bullets bolted town and moved to Landover, Maryland and became the Capital Bullets. After a year of that nonsense, owner Abe Pollin and his NBA franchise were officially renamed the Washington Bullets.
They played at the old Capital Centre, ( yes, that’s how it was spelled ) and I was cool with that. I followed my team as they shuffled down the road.
I loved the Bullets. Wes Unseld, Phil Chenier, Elvin Hayes, Kevin Porter and–my all-time favorite NBA player–Bobby Dandridge.
I rooted for them all.
When the Bullets lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 1975 NBA Finals, I was crushed. I was upset when they lost to the Cavaliers in ’76 and the Rockets in ’77.
The Bullets, as underdogs, finally broke through in 1978 and won the NBA title. They rolled through the Hawks, Spurs ( who at that time were in the Eastern Conference ), Sixers and Sonics on their way to World Championship.
I remember watching the games on grainy Channel 20 and listening on my Baltimore Colts helmet radio to Frank Herzog call the action on WTOP.
In 1979, the Bullets finished with the best record in the NBA. After being down 3-1 to George Gervin, Larry Kenon and the Spurs in the Eastern Conference Finals, they came back to win in seven games.
Game seven of that series, by the way, is still the most exciting basketball game I have ever seen.
After 1979, the franchise settled into mediocrity. There were still competitive, but never again approached championship caliber.
But they were still my squad.
My first job in sports was with the Washington Bullets in 1990. They had an office at the First Mariner Arena and I worked for free doing menial tasks.
Loved very minute of it.
The Bullets played four regular season games a year at the Arena until 1997.
Then they moved to the MCI ( now Verizon ) Center and changed their name to the Wizards.
The colors changed and so did my attitude towards the team. They were now longer the Bullets. They were an old guy with a beard in ugly uniforms.
Don’t get me wrong, I rooted for former Terps Juan Dixon, Steve Blake and Laron Profit when they played there.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same.
I still watch the NBA. To me, it is still fantastic. There are many great players and stars for the ages.
I just wish I had a team to really root for and care about.