Watching a team named the Washington Wizards take the court in black, bronze and teal uniforms often seemed distant and surreal to the players who built the Bullets franchise. So for Bullets legend Bob Dandridge, it's about time the team's proud past caught up to its hopeful future.
"Going back to the old uniforms, the old colors may raise the awareness of how great a franchise this is," said Dandridge, who is the director of the Bullets/Wizards Alumni Association. "There is a winning tradition here."
In keeping with his plan to honor the past, owner Ted Leonsis invited Dandridge and Bullets Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes to join him, general manager Ernie Grunfeld and coach Flip Saunders on stage Tuesday as the Wizards unveiled their new uniforms before a crowd of fans, season-ticket holders and guests.
With all the drama of a Hollywood premiere, a black curtain adorning the stage was raised. Guards John Wall and Jordan Crawford stepped out to model the new look.
The home uniform is white, with red at the top and a blue stripe across the center, with "Wizards" on the front. The road uniform is red, with blue across the top, a white stripe across the center and "Washington" across the chest.
"I like them. I like the DC with the monument and the basketball and the little star," Wall said. "Then they told me there was a 'W' on the side, and I didn't know it until I got up there, so I felt embarrassed.
"It's like an old-school type jersey. I wish last year we could have worn it. It's unique. We're the nation's capital team, so why not be red, white and blue?"
The uniforms also have what the team described as "secondary logos." The "d" in Wizards is a model of the Washington Monument, and the lowercase "d" in "dc" on the shorts mimics the iconic Bullets logo two hands reaching up to touch a basketball. The new logo has one hand reaching up.
"I like them a lot, bringing back the old color. And they are nice-looking jerseys," Crawford said. "If I was a part of the past, I would always want them to bring it up, if I did something special. So it's good to bring up the past, but then to look forward to the future."
Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld called the look "sleek and bold."
"This is a look our players can wear with pride as they represent our city," he said.
With all three of Leonsis' Monumental Sports teams the Capitals, Mystics and Wizards now wearing red, white and blue, the owner has completed what he calls the first step toward his goal of paying homage to the past while looking ahead to the future.
"The Wizards had their best success while wearing red, white and blue," Leonsis said. "This is one step in a long journey. These jerseys will look and feel even better when we become a really good team.
"We want to build a team as good as its fan base. I know how much pride a team can engender in a city."
For Dandridge, that pride begins by remembering the team's rich history as players such as Wall and Crawford build the team's future.
"There are a lot of All-Stars, Hall of Famers that have been a part of this organization that puts the Washington franchise, historically, among the top franchises in the league," Dandridge said. "I think the younger players might not realize that, but this franchise has a whole lot of winning history."
© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.