Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
The Washington Bullets won their first NBA championship in 1978 amid an eruption of joy by local fans. The feat, unfortunately, has not been repeated, even as the Bullets became the Wizards. An excerpt from The Post of June 8, 1978:
At The Last Hurrah, grown men and women were on their knees. Moments before, when the Washington Bullets' lead seemed safe and the first notes of a glorious opera hung in the air, the barroom at 1415 22nd St. NW had been full of joy.
"Seattle has got Downtown Freddy Brown," screamed one of the fans clogged around two TV sets, "but, Lordy, we've got Outta Town CJ Johnson."
But it had gotten too close for such glee. The Bullet lead, once 13 points, had shriveled to a single basket. Who stood at the foul line with 12 seconds left but the beloved captain, Wes Unseld.
"Please, please, Wes," people pleaded on their knees, begging a man they had never met. "Just make one out of three."
When the first Unseld free throw clanked off the rim, heads sank against the barroom floor. But when Unseld's next two shots pierced the net, the boom of the Seattle SuperSonics' comeback was broken.
In the near silence of the Seattle Center Coliseum, Washington's first major world championship since 1942 was safe, the Bullets winning the NBA crown, 105-99, in the seventh and final playoff game.
Throughout the Washington area fans congregated to share their jubilation in any public place.
At the Sports Nut, a Connecticut Avenue watering hole, fans stood on tables, stamping their feet in unison, then broke into a spontaneous chorus of "America the Beautiful."
"Hey, Carol," owner George Comert yelled to a Sports Nut waitress, "break out the Schnapps. And sing us a little Rigoletto."
Singing was a universal reaction to the Bullets' first NBA championship. "We are the champions," sang one throng outside Faunsworth Restaurant, near Capital Centre.
"Bullets Fever," a freshly minted rock `n' roll tune, blared along Wisconsin Avenue as celebrants packed the street outside the Grog `n' Tankard, stopping traffic with their mass dancing.
Thousands of Washingtonians chose to relish this night of basketball pandemonium in the company of like-minded fanatics. Wherever basketball fans and TV sets gathered together, Bullet madness reigned.
This series is available at www.washingtonpost.com