Washington Wizards mourned on Tuesday, 24th November, 2009 on the loss of long time owner Abe Pollin. Pollin passed away at the age of 85. Washington Sports & Entertainment, Pollin’s home company announced his death although no further details were provided by the officials. He was suffering from a rare brain disorder, Supranuclear palsy, due to which he had impaired movements and balance. Also in 2005, he underwent a bypass surgery and again suffered an injury when he broke his pelvis in 2007.
Pollin has been the longest running owner in the history of NBA. His unexpected death has left the company under ownership of Ted Leonsis. Pollin had started the establishment by purchasing Baltimore Bullets in 1964 and taking it to its current heights. Pollin was one of the rare few known to have run the business like a family affair. Verizon Center, the team’s home arena, was his best accomplishment according to Pollin. The center cost him a fortune but also proved a booster for the team and spectators from 1997, the year it was opened to public. In his last days, although mentally sharp, the brain disease forced him to a cart to traverse the halls of Verizon Center.
The Supranuclear Palsy is a rare degenerating disease that affects selective parts of the brain and proceeds to deterioration of the affected regions and ultimately results in death. The disease currently has no efficient treatment and thus is cureless.
Under his reign, Pollin achieved a National Basketball Association championship win along with seeing the city’s hockey team to sore the heights of the Stanley Cup Final. He helped revitalize some part of downtown, built 2 arenas and did showed uncountable generosity by donating to numerous charities. The NBA Commissioner David Stern mourned on hearing about the loss, “With Abe Pollin’s passing, the NBA family has lost its most revered member, whose stewardship of the Wizards franchise, together with his wife, Irene, has been a study in unparalleled dedication to the city of Washington. During his illness he fought with a determination and valor that will remain an inspiration to all.”
The Washington Wizards offered their condolences to the family and expressed their grief by observing a pre-game moment of silence at the Verizon Center where they were playing against the Philadelphia 76ers. Images of Pollin kept flashing through the Jumbotron with one showing Pollin hugging Wes Unseld, the center, just after winning the 1978 NBA championship title.
Unseld later expressed his grief, “I just lost a really, really good friend, I think it’s more than any of you will understand or I could explain. It’s going to be a big void in sports and this community as well. The type of person he was, Mr. Pollin was a tremendous competitor. I wanted to win because it made me look good, and I could renegotiate contracts. He wanted to win because he was a competitor and for what it gave to other people and gave them a sense of pride. He was different, and he followed that every day for the 40 years I knew him.”
The entire Wizards fraternity will dearly miss their beloved owner.