I’ve said several times that the Washington Bullets brand was pretty dead when Abe Pollin decided to change the name of DC’s basketball team to Wizards. Granted, it was a small sample size, but I don’t think I EVER saw any other kids wearing Bullets gear when I was growing up in Vienna, Va. That’s 13 years of public school. I saw other kids wearing Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Knickerbockers and Chicago Bulls gear, but I’m pretty sure I never saw anybody wearing Bullets stuff. Yet, there is a nostalgia for the Bullets and a hope the name changes back. I am on the record as saying Ted Leonsis isn’t going to do it.
In the last few years, two other teams have changed their name — the Hornets became the New Orleans Pelicans and yesterday the Bobcats reclaimed the Charlotte Hornets name (ESPN) that had been used several times in different sports. It was in the Hornets story that I saw an unfortunate statistic. The Wizards have the 5th worst all-time record of any NBA nickname. The worst were the short-lived Providence Steamrollers in the 1940s who only had a .274 winning percentage. The Bobcats, a 2004 expansion team is the worst of existing teams with a 250-472 record (.346). The Los Angeles Clippers (who started the nickname after relocating from Buffalo (Braves) to San Diego) are 1,044-1,778, a .370 winning percentage. Third worst are the Memphis Grizzlies, who started as an expansion team in Vancouver in 1995 before moving to Memphis in 2001, with a 547-881 record (.383). The Wizards, even with several years of playoff appearances in the previous decade are still only 495-769, a .392 winning percentage since 1997. It seems like they should be worse. The improvements of the Grizzlies (Western Conference finals last season) and Clippers (Pacific Division champions last season) make it seems worse. At least they look good in the red, white and blue uniforms.