SBD/May 11, 2011/Franchises

Wizards Receive Praise For New Retro Red, White And Blue Uniforms

New uniforms feature model of Washington Monument, tribute to old Bullets logo
The Wizards yesterday unveiled new uniforms, and with all of Ted Leonsis' teams "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," according to Carla Peay of the WASHINGTON TIMES. Bullets/Wizards Alumni Association Dir Bob Dandridge: "Going back to the old uniforms, the old colors may raise the awareness of how great a franchise this is." The uniforms, unveiled "before a crowd of fans, season-ticket holders and guests," 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 [of] two hands reaching up to touch a basketball." Wizards G John Wall said, "I like them. I like the DC with the monument and the little star. ... 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?" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/11). Leonsis yesterday said, "People really wanted some kind of connective feeling to what was good about the past here. And so the league said we could change the colors, and we really pushed the envelope. It's the Wizards, but it really looks different." Leonsis noted that he has not had any conversations with late Wizards Owner Abe Pollin's widow, Irene, "about going back to the Bullets." Leonsis: "I think changing the name, sometimes it's almost like a grandstanding thing. I mean, it's a cheap way to get people to support you" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/10). Leonsis added, "We rebranded the team and really went back to that red, white and blue old-school look, but kind of with a modern twist. I just thought that was the right thing to do. ... I'm not naïve to think that it's a big deal changing the look and feel, although I do think people that live here want to feel proud of their city. And this new logo can become a little bit iconic to people who live in D.C. and love basketball" ("The Mike Wise Show With Holden Kushner," WJFK-FM, 5/10).

EXPEDITED PROCESS: In DC, Michael Lee notes the process for NBA teams to "change their logos or uniforms usually takes two years, but Leonsis's desire to start anew" enabled the team to unveil the new look "in about 11 months." NBA VP/Apparel, Sporting Goods & Basketball Partnerships Christopher Arena: "Sometimes, we have some circumstances where we have new ownership, we have a vision, and we can move these timelines around a bit." The new uniforms were a "collaborative effort by the Wizards, the NBA and adidas," which "assigned a team of 11 designers" to create the look. adidas "floated several plans to the Wizards, including creating a logo centered on the Capital, but eventually settled on a tertiary logo that featured the Washington Monument pointing toward a star." They also "used the monument to form the letter 'd' in the home white uniform and the letter 'h' in the road red uniform." Wizards Exec VP/Business Operations Greg Bibb, who "worked with the league and adidas," said of the new look, "Hopefully it creates a type of connection with our fan base and gets our fans excited and energized." Lee notes the Wizards "became the latest team to go with a modern retro look," joining the Pistons, 76ers and Warriors, "who have done the same in the past decade" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/11).

WELCOME CHANGE
: In DC, Tracee Hamilton writes it is "hard not to like the Wizards' new uniforms." One "modern twist" is that the "words on the jerseys are lowercase, which may be a nod to Twitter and e-mail and the slow erosion of capital letters in our online world -- or it may just look good." Hamilton notes what you "don't see in all this Bullets redux is the word 'Bullets,'" but it "would be out of character for Leonsis to disrespect Abe Pollin's wishes in such a manner" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/11). ESPN.com's Patrick Hruby wrote under the header, "Wizards' New Uniforms A Victory In War On Teal." DC is "teal-free" after the Wizards ditched their "previous gold, black and teal outfits" (ESPN.com, 5/10). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said red, white and blue are the “only colors a team in the capital of the United States of America should have, because our flag is not copper colored" (“PTI,” ESPN, 5/10). YAHOO SPORTS' Kelly Dwyer wrote the club is "keeping the team's name, and that weird-looking wizard in the Wizards' logo, but beyond that everything smacks of the old days" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/10). Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan: "We love them. They harken back to the golden age of uniforms of the '60s and '70s" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/10).
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