BETHESDA -- For several seconds yesterday, the familiar logo of the Washington Bullets was displayed on two television monitors. And just like that the computer-generated logo dissolved, turning into a yellow brick road that led to the MCI Center and the team's new logo -- the Washington Wizards.
And as the crowd roared at precisely that moment, the team's new name became official as the Bullets, a name that began in Baltimore and held up for 34 years, were put to rest.
After the announcement was made, Wizards merchandise went on sale immediately.
"It's something we've planned over a year, and it's something that we've involved the fans, the players and the whole city," Wizards owner Abe Pollin said of the name change. "The Bullets have been a major part of my life for 33 years, and changing the name is not an easy thing to do.
"The priority for us was to make a statement about anti-violence, to make a statement that bullets kill people," Pollin added. "Therefore, we felt the name Bullets was no longer appropriate."
What the team gets in return is a new logo that, with its color scheme of blue, black and bronze, is similar to the redesigned colors of the Washington Capitals hockey team. The primary logo features a bronze-faced wizard soaring past a crescent moon with "a burst of magic" on his right hand and a spinning basketball on his left. The secondary logo makes use of a modern font that forms the letters "DC."
"I like it -- it's very nice and very creative," said Juwan Howard, who was on the committee that decided on the logo design, which was provided by the NBA. "I think people were a little upset at first with changing the name, but this will grow on you."
Wizards forward Chris Webber, who made a fashionably late arrival in a stretch white limousine, quickly donned a Wizards cap and T-shirt upon his arrival. Earlier in the day, he toured the site of the MCI Center for the first time.
"This gives us new incentive, a new energy," Webber said. "We're going to be the first Wizards team. This is something that we should be proud of."
The franchise first used the name Bullets when it moved from Chicago to Baltimore in 1963. The Baltimore Bullets played 10 seasons at the Civic Center (now Baltimore Arena) before moving to Landover for the 1973-74 season.
"I like the logo, I like the action and I like the colors," general manager Wes Unseld said. "It's time for change. If we all stay around long enough, we all change. Now if we're able to put a good team on the floor, it will be dynamite."
Pub Date: 5/16/97