Abe Pollin - Biography
Abe Pollin (December 3, 1923 – November 24, 2009) was the owner of a number of professional sports teams including the Washington Capitals in the National Hockey League (NHL), the Washington Mystics in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the Washington Wizards in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Pollin was the longest-tenured owner of an NBA team, holding the Packers/Zephyrs/Bullets/Wizards franchise for 46 years.
Pollin was born on December 3, 1923 to Mr. and Mrs. Morris Pollin. When he was 8, Pollin's family moved to the Washington area from Philadelphia. Pollin graduated from The George Washington University in 1945 and took a job with his family’s construction company for 12 years. The Pollins launched their own construction company in 1957.
Abe Pollin is a member of the Levy family as well. A successful construction contractor in the Washington area, he headed an investment group that bought the then Baltimore Bullets in 1964. He moved the team to the Washington area in 1973 after building the Capital Centre. In 1996, Pollin announced that he was changing the team's name because he felt the name "Bullets" had too many negative connotations. "Our slogan used to be 'Faster than a speeding bullet,' but that is no longer appropriate," Pollin told the press. A "name-the-team" contest yielded the name "Wizards."
Beginning in 2002, an award called "The Pollin Award" has been awarded annually in his honor. People are chosen for the Pollin Award based on their dedication to the Washington DC community and the impact they have on it. Winners of the award have included Georgia M. Dickens, 2002 Executive Director, The S.T.E.P.U.P. Foundation Of Greater Washington, D.C. Inc., Harvey C. Barnum, Jr., 2005 Teacher of the Year, Jason Kamras and 2006 Miss District of Columbia, Kate Michael.
On December 3, 2003, a party was held in honor of Abe Pollin's 80th birthday at the Verizon Center. A slideshow was presented about the history of Abe's career as owner of the Bullets/Wizards. Tony Bennett also performed during the festivities as the guest entertainer. Celebrites such as Jackie Mason and the late Tim Russert, although Mason actually performed for Abe.
Pollin died on November 24, 2009, of corticobasal degeneration, a rare brain disease. He had made donations totaling $3 million toward finding a cure for the disease.
Pollin and his wife, Irene Lee (née Kercheck) were married on June 10, 1945 in Washington, DC.
Abe Pollin was the chairman of the board, chief executive, and the majority shareholder of his company, Washington Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Wizards and the Verizon Center, amongst other entertainment interests. He was also the builder and owner of the Capital Centre, former home of the Washington Bullets (Now Wizards) and Capitals. Irene was co-owner of the Washington Wizards along with the Verizon Center.
Accomplishments and honors
Pollin owned the Washington Wizards for 45 years. December 3 became "Abe Pollin Day" by order of the mayor of Washington D.C.
On March 9, 2009, Pollin was inducted into the George Washington University School of Business Sports Executives Hall of Fame. In March 2011, he was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Pollin's building and financing of the Verizon Center is often given credit for revitalizing Downtown Washington, D.C. The Verizon Center block of F Street NW is named "Abe Pollin Way" in his honor. The Irene Apartments at 4701 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase, Maryland, were built by Abe and named after his wife.
- Wizards profile
- AISH profile
- Goldstein, Richard. "Abe Pollin, Team Owner and Philanthropist, Dies at 85," The New York Times, Wednesday, November 25, 2009.