Guys, That's Not How a '90s Throwback Night Works | Wizards Blog Truth About

Guys, That’s Not How a ’90s Throwback Night Works

Updated: January 24, 2017

When Ted Leonsis took full ownership of the Wizards in 2010, he created a Washington Bullets & Wizards Alumni Association to celebrate and honor the history of the team. This was a welcome development for a franchise that had otherwise ignored its past incarnation as the “Bullets.”

The team even re-designed its uniforms in 2011 to pay homage to the organization’s former stars-and-bars look of the 1970s, and a new secondary logo reminiscent of the old Bullets moniker was created.

But in all this reminiscing, one era of Bullets basketball has been forgotten: the 1990s. That’s why I was excited to receive an email last week from Wizards Public Relations with the subject line: “WIZARDS TO CELEBRATE THE 90’S AGAINST CELTICS.”

That is, until I read the email.

“In addition to wearing their Baltimore Pride uniforms which pays homage to the uniform worn by the Baltimore Bullets from 1969-73…”

“The team will also be referred to as the Baltimore Bullets on all of the team’s social media platforms.”

bullets press

Wait, what?

There seems to be an aversion to all things ’90s with this franchise — even on a night that is supposed to celebrate that decade.

The team is missing a golden opportunity to connect with fans — especially those aged 35-to-50 who can afford to buy season tickets and raise the next generation of Washington basketball fans.

The Bullets teams of the ’90s have a reputation that centers on lost years, marked by lottery appearances, and fan indifference. But that is not exactly true.

The 1996-97 edition was the greatest Washington Bullets team of the past 35 years. Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Rod Strickland, Gheorghe Muresan. That core did not reach its full potential but once upon a time they were the hottest young team in the NBA.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Last year I interviewed Howard, Strickland, Tracy Murray, Chris Whitney, Bernie Bickerstaff, and Jim Lynam for a feature on that team. Juwan said he got chills just thinking about the Capital Centre crowd in Game 3 of the playoffs versus Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.

 For a real ’90s throwback, read the feature on the 1996-97 team: Part I, Part II

If you are going to have a ’90s throwback night, the team should wear their classic white Bullets jerseys. And if the marketing department really wants to excite fans, they should put those in the alternate jersey rotation and wear them multiple times per year.

The team said there are no league rules or trademark issues preventing them from wearing the iconic ’90s jerseys. Before each season the marketing department works with the league office in selecting their alternate uniforms and, thus far, they simply have not chosen to use the ’90s version. But they should. I promise those ’90s road and home jerseys with Wall, Beal, and Otto on them would quickly sell out at the team store.

The franchise has made a conscious, if subtle, effort to distance itself from the “Wizards” nickname but for whatever reason has thus far refused to rip off the Band-Aid and change the name back to the Bullets. Until that happens, the team can appease the “bring back the Bullets” crowd by acknowledging the ’90s teams that a large segment of the fanbase grew up with.

Throwback nights and Bullets merchandise in the team store are nice, but it’s always the little “b” never the big “B.” The Bullets logo from 1987-88 to 1996-97 was this:

bullets logo2

It’s okay to call them the Washington Bullets, especially on ’90s throwback night.

There will be a few ’90s touches at Verizon Center on Tuesday night — the group that sang “Whoomp! (There It Is)” will be doing so at halftime, the voice of NBA Jam will be the stadium announcer, ’90s graphics will be used on the scoreboard, and Tom Hammonds, Mark Alarie, and Gheorghe Muresan will make an appearance — but how cool would it be to see the current Wizards squad walk on to the court wearing these?

bullets jersey webber

bullets wall jersey

Bring back the Bullets, indeed.


Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.