None of the five final name proposals had received widespread approval -- with fans booing the selections loudly each time they were displayed during recent home games -- but yesterday the name change became official for the Washington Bullets.
The new name -- the Washington Wizards.
Bullets owner Abe Pollin made the announcement last night on a D.C. newscast. Pollin was joined by players Chris Webber, Rasheed Wallace and Jim McIlvaine.
McIlvaine had stated his liking of the name Sea Dogs, one of the finalists along with Dragons, Express and Stallions. But while Pollin would not give the final results of the voting (conducted by calling a 900 number), he said Wizards won by a wide margin.
"The Wizards is extremely clever," Pollin said. "When we create a logo, select the colors and a uniform, it will be fantastic."
The name change will go into effect for the 1997-98 season when the team moves to downtown Washington. It marks the first time an NBA team has changed names without changing cities. Pollin said he made the change because of the name Bullets being associated with violence.
Pollin will submit the name to the league, which will come up with logo and color possibilities. He said he will have the final say on the design.
"It has to be something that I like," Pollin said. "I'll try to OK something that hopefully everyone will like."
Pollin said changing the name and logo has nothing to do with cashing in on sales of NBA attire, which generate millions of dollars.
"This name change is just one little part of the anti-violence campaign," Pollin said. "This name, the Bullets, had been part of my life for 32 years. I have a championship ring with Bullets on it. I'm prepared to give that up."
Webber, who said he is feeling fine after his season-ending shoulder surgery, said the new name was "all right."
I= "I'll just have to have Wizards on my ring," Webber said.