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Ever Wonder: Why the name change from Bullets to Wizards?

Ever Wonder: Why the name change from Bullets to Wizards?

When you walk into Capital One Arena and look to the rafters you'll see banners of all-time Washington Bullets players and a banner that commemorates the franchise's only NBA Championship from the 1977-78 season. While you're admiring the greatness, you slowly start to think about the transition the organization took from Bullets to the Wizards.

Why was the name abruptly changed from one that carried an NBA World Championship to the Wizards? And why change the patriotic color scheme of red white and blue to white blue and bronze?

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On November 4, 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and close friend of then Wizards owner Abe Pollin, was assassinated at a Tel Aviv peace rally. Four days after his funeral, Pollin made the announcement that his team would no longer go by the name "Bullets," after 32 years of sporting the moniker. 

"My friend was shot in the back by bullets,” Pollin said. “The name ‘Bullets’ is no longer appropriate for a sports team.”

On top of the gun violence that took a close friend away from Pollin, Washington D.C. was in the midst of a terrible reign of drug abuse and gang-affiliated gun violence in the 1990s, marking it as one of the most dangerous, and deadly cities in the country. 

The process leading to the name "Wizards" wasn't as easy as some may think. In 1997 the team opened up 1-800 lines to the community and allowed them to vote on a number of possible names to replace Bullets.

The options included Sea Dogs, Dragons, Express, Stallions and Wizards. 

The fans made the right choice. 

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Charles Barkley jokingly admits he doesn't know anyone on the Wizards besides John Wall and Bradley Beal

Charles Barkley jokingly admits he doesn't know anyone on the Wizards besides John Wall and Bradley Beal

Without John Wall, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, Washington's three best players, the Wizards hopes of making the playoffs in the NBA's Orlando restart have taken a hit.

On Thursday, Wizards coach Scott Brooks joined the Inside the NBA team on TNT, where Charles Barkley genuinely asked him who has to step up for the team when the games begin.

Brooks' response was unexpected, yet also hilarious. Here was the exchange:

Barkley: "Obviously, without John and Bradley, your two best players, give us two names that really need to step up for you guys."

Brooks: "Well, I think we should play that game where you name two guys on our team besides those two guys." 

Barkley: "Let me tell you something, I don't know anybody on your team! So I want you to tell us two players on your team."

To Barkley's credit, much of the national media has not paid any attention to the Wizards this season. The team only had one game on national TV this season, a November clash with the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.

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When basketball does resume, the Wizards are six games back of the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot in the East. Washington needs to make up two games over the final eight contests in order to force a play-in game for the conference's final playoff spot.

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Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

The Washington Wizards have their first reported cases of coronavirus, as center Thomas Bryant and Gary Payton II have tested positive, according to the Washington Post.

The timing of the tests prevented Bryant and Payton II from traveling with the Wizards to Orlando, FL as they entered the NBA's restart bubble at Disney World. The team, however, is hopeful they can join them before long.

Head coach Scott Brooks first dropped a hint on Thursday night when addressing the media on a video conference call from Orlando.

"A couple of guys did not make the trip. Hopefully they will be joining us soon. But with the CBA medical [restrictions] I can't get into who did not participate," Brooks said.

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That suggested coronavirus was the likely reason. If it were another injury, he could specify just as they did with Bradley Beal days earlier when they explained why he wasn't going to play in the restart. A basketball injury also wouldn't prevent them from traveling.

Coronavirus generally stays in the system for 10 to 14 days. It is unclear when Bryant and Payton II contracted the virus, or when they tested positive. The Wizards' first exhibition game is July 22. They play their first regular season game on July 31.

Bryant and Payton II are the first cases involving the Wizards made public. It is not known whether any others have tested positive previously, as team officials have deferred to league statements on related matters.

There have been dozens of positive tests throughout the league in recent months, including some that shut down practice facilities.

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