Win One For the Owner
Practice was over, presumably followed by a film session and a team meeting before the flight. That's when the request from the owner came from above.
"It kind of caught us off guard," Caron Butler said. "We heard he wanted to see us for a minute. Mr. Pollin wanted to tell us something before we left for Cleveland."
Abe Pollin, 84 years old, frail, fighting a crippling disease, waited for the Wizards in his third-floor office at Verizon Center yesterday. Some climbed stairs past the concourse. Others took the elevator. They all gathered around to hear the franchise patriarch gather his strength and speak.
In his 44 years of stewardship -- he bought the Baltimore Bullets in 1964 -- the NBA's senior owner told these Wizards he had been on both sides of the 3-1 equation. He knows what it's like to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a seven-game series and that awful feeling of losing a series after holding a 3-1 lead.
"He said he'll be anxious on Friday to see us back at the game," Antawn Jamison said, referring to the day Game 6 will be played, if necessary.
"He said, 'Win one for me,' " Jamison said.
He said that?
"Yep. He's still sharp as a tack. He's got it goin' on."
"He probably spent 15 or 20 minutes with us, wishing us well," Butler said. "And then he said to go out and obviously do this for your families and do this for yourselves. But, least of all, do it for him.
"I was like, 'Man, those are some words of inspiration.' "
In the hallway leading to the locker room, there is a photo of Pollin bearhugging Wes Unseld on that championship night, June 7, 1978, when the Washington Bullets won their first and only NBA title.