Arena tribute brings back memories for former Bullets 12 are honored as club plays finale in Landover

November 30, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- As his name was announced and the sellout crowd roared, Earl Monroe, for a brief moment, felt like he was back in the old days when the Baltimore Bullets were firmly established as one of the top teams in the league.

"I just remember the playoffs, and how loud it got when we played," said Monroe, who played his games in Baltimore. "This crowd always made me feel good."

Monroe got that good feeling for one last time last night, as the final NBA game was played at US Airways Arena. At halftime, 12 of the greatest players in franchise history were honored.

Along with Monroe, former franchise greats who received framed Washington Wizards jerseys with their old Bullets numbers included: Walt Bellamy, Phil Chenier, Bobby Dandridge, Rick Mahorn, Jeff Malone, Earl Monroe, Kevin Porter and Wes Unseld.

Elvin Hayes and Jeff Ruland, who were unable to attend, and the late Gus Johnson also were honored.

After the ceremonies, during which the Bullets' 1978 championship banner was lowered, the former franchise greats -- all wearing Wizards jackets -- gathered in a back tunnel to reminisce.

Unseld planted a kiss on the cheek of Mahorn, Bellamy handled the television media, and Monroe recalled old times.

"People really supported me in this area, and I appreciate that," Monroe said. "Everything changes, and this is just another phase. But the MCI Center is going to be a great place."

Pub Date: 11/30/97

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