In 1995, owner Abe Pollin announced that the franchise was to be renamed because Bullets carried violent overtones, which he wanted to repudiate, especially since Washington was experiencing some of the highest homicide rates in the country at the time. A contest was held to choose a new name and the choices were narrowed to the Dragons, Express, Stallions, Sea Dogs, or Wizards. On May 15, 1997, the Bullets officially became the Washington Wizards.
I don't know what a Sea Dog is, but Tim Legler was on ESPN just this morning and said they were really close to being the Washington Sea Dogs, but fan vote chose the Wizards.
DC had (and still has) a high homicide rate and a problem with violence, gangs, and illegal firearms. But the straw that broke the camel's back was Yitzhak Rabin's assassination (Rabin was the Israeli PM who tried to broker peace, but more importantly in this context, was a close friend of Abe Pollin).
I never heard about the Seadogs, but I do remember reading that Dragons was a pretty popular name.
I always thought how an organization names itself is telling of the sports franchise itself. If the name carries cultural significance to the city it plays in, then the franchise is usually well-ran. Whereas teams with more generic names, seem to struggle.
A devastating mix of Holden Caulfield and Donnie Darko.
The Wizards moved to the MCI Center (now named Verizon Center) in 1997.
In 1995, owner Abe Pollin announced he was changing the team's name because Bullets had acquired violent overtones that had made him increasingly uncomfortable over the years, particularly given the high homicide and crime rate in the early 1990s in Washington, D.C. The final straw was the assassination of his longtime friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. A contest was held to choose a new name and the choices were narrowed to the Dragons, Express, Stallions, Sea Dogs, or Wizards. On May 15, 1997, the Bullets officially became the Washington Wizards. The change generated some controversy because Washington is a predominantly African-American city and Wizard is a rank in the Ku Klux Klan. A new logo was unveiled and the team colors were changed from the traditional red, white and blue to blue, black and bronze, the same colors as the Washington Capitals hockey team owned by Pollin. That same year the Wizards moved to the then MCI Center, now called Verizon Center. The Verizon Center is home to the Capitals, the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Georgetown Hoyas men's college basketball team.
In 1998, they became the brother team to the WNBA's Washington Mystics, and remained officially thus until 2005 when the Mystics were sold to Lincoln Holdings (headed by Ted Leonsis), parent company of the Washington Capitals. However, upon the purchase of the Wizards by Leonsis in 2010, the Wizards and Mystics again became sibling teams.