According to Mike Bowie, the room also held the trophy during the period from roughly 1997 to 2001, after the Capitals (purchased by Leonsis in 1999) and Wizards (as the Bullets were renamed in 1995) moved from Capital Centre to Verizon Center, but before the original display case had been built.
In 2001, Mike Bowie, who began working under his father in 1997 and eventually worked his way up to vice president, oversaw construction of a trophy case, with a mirrored back and a glass front, big enough to hold three trophies — the hope being that the Capitals and Washington Mystics would win championship trophies of their own. The case was displayed just to the east of the main entrance at Verizon Center — where many Wizards fans have recalled seeing it through much of the 2000s, until officials decided it needed a bigger case.
During that time, the display case was shared, on a rotating basis, by the Wizards, Capitals and Mystics, so every four to six weeks, according to Mike Bowie, the trophy and all other Wizards memorabilia were removed and stored until it was the Wizards’ turn to have the case again.
As for the condition of the trophy in those days, Mike Bowie said, “I’m sure it could have been shined up. It was 30 years old. I didn’t see any dents on it, but I wasn’t examining it real close either.”
Smokie Bowie’s association with the Pollin family predates Abe Pollin’s ownership of the Bullets; he worked for the construction company founded in 1957 by Morris Pollin, Abe’s father. But by the Bullets’ 1970s heyday, he had become Abe Pollin’s right-hand man and eventually, his best friend. He was an executive vice president of Pollin’s company, Washington Sports & Entertainment, at the time of his passing.
“I’m pretty sure if Mr. Pollin was here, he would tell you my father was his best friend,” said Bonnie Barger, Bowie’s daughter. “They had spent many years together, and he cherished my father’s opinion. There wasn’t much that got done without him at least discussing things with my father first.”
After Bowie died, his family went through a closet where he stored some keepsakes from his career. They found a small box with some mementos, including a ticket stub from Game 6 of the 1978 NBA championship series at Capital Centre.
When it was time to bury Smokie Bowie (the nickname came from his younger days, when he used to smoke prodigiously, before giving up the habit later in life), his son, Mike, took the ticket stub and placed it gently into the coffin.