(Dan Steinberg/The Washington Post)
(Dan Steinberg/The Washington Post)

“Why Wizards?” Abe Pollin was asked in February of 1996, on the day he announced the franchise’s new name.

“It’s someone who can do things,” Pollin said. “It’s magic, flamboyant, smart and a winner. All those things connote a winner.”

Needless to say, things haven’t exactly worked out that way. And now the news gets worse for the Wizards. With the official placement of “Bobcats” into history’s dustbin, the Wizards now have the third-least successful active NBA nickname, ahead only of the Grizzlies and the Clippers, according to ESPN.com via Elias.

The Clippers are 1044-1778, for a league-worst .370 winning percentage. The Grizzlies check in at 547-881, for a .383 percentage. And the Wizards are 495-769, for .392. (The Bobcats were far worse, at .346.)

Not that the Bullets were world-killers, but they were better than that. The Washington Bullets had an all-time record of 887-999, for a .470 winning percentage. The Capital Bullets ended their only season above .500, at 47-35. The Baltimore Bullets finished 10 seasons with a record of 401-412, which works out to .493. All, in other words, were far more successful than the Wizards.

“My colleagues all warned me this would happen,” Pollin said that February, when asked about negative fan reaction. “They’d been through it. The guy in Denver said he was told ‘Avalanche’ [the NHL team] was a terrible name, but now everyone loves it. Same thing with Raptors in Toronto. All my colleagues told me to be prepared. Stand firm.”

“Changing the name,” The Post’s Richard Justice wrote, “is one part of what the franchise hopes will be a fresh start when it moves into its state-of-the-art arena, now under construction, in 1997. Since Unseld and Elvin Hayes retired in the 1980s, the Bullets have been in a state of steady decline. They entered this season with a string of eight consecutive losing seasons and have not made the playoffs since 1989. They’ve also been at the bottom of the league in virtually everything else, from ticket revenues to merchandise sales.”

Add “post-name change winning percentage” to the list.

(As first blogged by William World News)