By Lorenzo Tanos
We're down to the last of the 30 teams in our NBA Trivia series, as we take a look at the Washington Wizards, a team that has had its share of home cities and two immediately recognizable team nicknames. Here we cover as much ground as possible from the largely successful Baltimore Bullets era, all the way to their present-day status as the often-struggling Washington Wizards. That said, we hope you've enjoyed our series of team-by-team NBA trivia articles!
1. True or False – The Baltimore Bullets started out in the late ‘40s in the days when the NBA was known as the BAA.
False. The Baltimore Bullets who entered the NBA in the early ‘60s as the Chicago Packers (later on the Zephyrs) were an expansion team, and different from the original Bullets who enjoyed some early success in the BAA before floundering, then eventually disbanding in 1954.
2. Who did the Baltimore Bullets receive ahead of the 1964-65 NBA season in what was, at the time, one of the largest two-team trades in league history?
These days, two teams and seven players doesn't seem like much, but in 1964, that was quite a lot of players to be swapped between two squads. The Bullets traded former Rookie of the Year Terry Dischinger, future NBA executive Rod Thorn and severely undersized (6'3") power forward Don Kojis to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Bailey Howell, Don Ohl, Wali Jones and Bob Ferry.
What happened next? Howell would make the Hall of Fame as one of the ‘60s best power forwards. Ohl was an above-average off-guard for most of his career. Jones would gain more fame as the starting point guard on the NBA Championship-winning 1967 Philadelphia 76ers. Finally, Ferry was a decent reserve forward/center whose son Danny became a significant NBA Draft bust despite a similarly decent, and even longer career.
3. What rare feat did Wes Unseld achieve in the 1968-69 season?
Unseld, who would later be named to the Basketball Hall of Fame, was more of a defensive player, rebounder and outlet passer than a scorer, but his contributions were such that he became the second, and last man so far (after Wilt Chamberlain) to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in the same season.
4. Where did the Capital Bullets play their home games in the 1973-74 season?
Curiously, the former Baltimore Bullets went by the city name “Capital" for one season, and in 1973-74, the team was based out of Landover, Maryland. The following year, they became known as the Washington Bullets.
5. The Bullets may have been mired in mediocrity in the 1987-88 season, but what was their claim to fame that year?
The Washington Bullets, for one season, paraded the shortest and tallest players in NBA history on the same team – 5'3" MuggsyBogues and 7'7" Manute Bol. Bogues, who was a reserve point guard on the 1988 Bullets, joined the Charlotte Hornets through expansion for 1988-89. Bol, on the other hand, followed his Bullets stint up with two years on the Golden State Warriors, platooning at center with a broken-down Ralph Sampson in 1988-89.
6. What year did the Washington Bullets become the Wizards, and why?
Due to concerns about the violent nature of the Bullets moniker, team owner Abe Pollinannounced in 1995 that he would change the name of Washington's NBA team. The actual name change, however, took place a few months ahead of the 1997-98, when the Wizards nickname edged other candidates such as Dragons, Express and Sea Dogs.
7. By how many wins did the Wizards improve when Michael Jordan made his second NBA comeback after a year and a half as the team's president of basketball operations?
In the 2001-02 season, His Airness was still racking up the points and playing better than almost every guard in the NBA at the time of his comeback, but he had clearly lost a step at the age of 38. Prior to Jordan's comeback, the Wizards went a franchise-low 19-63, and when he joined the team in 2001-02, Washington finished 37-45, an 18-game improvement. It could've been better, though, as the Wizards were an impressive 26-21 with Jordan averaging over 25 ppg, 5 rpg and 5 apg at the All-Star break.
8. What year did the Washington Wizards make their last Playoffs appearance?
Yes, it's been quite a while. Before hitting bottom and tying their franchise-worst season in 2008-09 with a 19-63 record, the Wizards went 43-39 in 2007-08, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2008 Playoffs, their third straight early exit at the hands of the same team. With Gilbert Arenas out for most of the season with an injury, the Wizards were led by Antawn Jamison (21.4 ppg) and Caron Butler (20.3 ppg) in 2007-08.
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