Five years after coming to the Washington Bullets as the director of advertising, Susan O'Malley yesterday was named president of the team -- the first woman in National Basketball Association history to hold that title.
O'Malley, 29, becomes the third woman to serve as president of a major sports team. In the National Football League, Georgia Frontiere of the Los Angeles Rams and Gay Culverhouse of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the title.
"It puts a little more pressure on me, because I don't want to mess it up for other women," O'Malley said. "It is a big step in breaking down barriers, and I'm grateful for the opportunity."
The announcement was made by team owner Abe Pollin, who has held the title of chairman and president since buying the then-Baltimore Bullets in 1964.
Pollin said: "Because of the outstanding job that Susan O'Malley has done since taking over the responsibilities of guiding the Washington Bullets' off-court activities, I have decided to promote Susan O'Malley to president of the Washington Bullets."
Said O'Malley, who has served as the team's executive vice president since 1988: "I was surprised. It's nice and very flattering."
O'Malley said she had dreamed of being president since she was 11, when her father, Peter O'Malley, was Washington Capitals president.
As executive vice president, O'Malley has been guiding the Bullets' off-court activities, including sales, marketing, public relations, customer relations, community relations and NBA league relations. She doesn't anticipate many changes with her new title.
"It doesn't change my role a whole lot. It's more an opportunity for Mr. Pollin to thank me for what he considers a good job," O'Malley said.
O'Malley, a graduate of Mount St. Mary's College, worked for three years for the Earle Palmer Brown advertising firm before joining the Bullets as director of advertising. She was promoted to director of marketing and executive vice president.