Washington Wizards Guide: Franchise History, Leaders, Retired Numbers, Social Media and More


Previous Franchise Names: Washington Bullets, Capital Bullets, Baltimore Bullets, Chicago Zephyrs, Chicago Packers

Principal Owner: Ted Leonsis
COO: Dick Patrick
President: Ernie Grunfeld
Head Coach: Randy Wittman

Best Season: 1974-75 (60-22, .732)
Playoff Appearances: 27
NBA Championships: 1 (1977-78)


Basketball: Washington Bullets Wes Unseld (41) at scoring table during game vs Chicago Bulls at Chicago Stadium.
Chicago, IL 4/6/1979
CREDIT: Heinz Kluetmeier (Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X23285 TK2 )

It has been a frenetic existence for the franchise of many names, the Washington Wizards.

Since joining the NBA as the league’s first true expansion team in 1961, the franchise has operated as the Chicago Packers, Chicago Zephyrs, Baltimore Bullets, Capital Bullets, Washington Bullets and its current moniker, the Washington Wizards, which it adopted  in 1997 in an effort by owner Abe Pollin to get away from the connotation of gun violence.

The franchise’s lone title came in 1977-78, when the Bullets emerged after a 44-38 regular season to run through the playoffs, culminated with a seven-game NBA Finals victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.

The Bullets were in Baltimore the first time they reached the Finals, another upset-filled playoff run in 1971 after going 42-40. That ended with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Washington returned to the Finals in 1979, losing to Seattle in five games in the rematch.

Over the years, the franchise has been led by superstars such as Walt Bellamy, Earl Monroe, Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes. In 1968-69, Unseld became just the second player in NBA history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in the same season, joining Wilt Chamberlain.

The franchise has 27 playoff appearances in 55 seasons, with only 15 of those coming since the championship season of 1977-78.

Gene Shue had two terms as coach of the Bullets, taking over the club 26 games into the 1966-67 season and remaining through the 1972-73 campaign. He returned in 1980-81 and remained until he was fired late in the 1985-86 season.

He had a record of 522-505 in those two stints and was 19-36 in the postseason.

Washington Wizards Career Leaders (as of 3/9/2016)

  • Games, Wes Unseld, 984
  • Points, Elvin Hayes, 15551
  • Rebounds, Wes Unseld, 13769
  • Assists, Wes Unseld, 3822
  • Steals, Greg Ballard, 762
  • Blocks, Elvin Hayes, 1558

LANDOVER, MD – CIRCA 1977: Elvin Hayes #11 of the Washington Bullets grabs a rebound against the Boston Celtics during an NBA basketball game circa 1977 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Hayes played for the Bullets from 1972 – 81. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Washington Wizards Retired Numbers

Washington Wizards Official Links

Official Team Site: nba.com/wizards
Official Twitter Handle: @washwizards
Official Facebook Page: Washington Wizards
Official Instagram Page: Washington Wizards
Official Arena Page: Verizon Center

Washington Wizards Beat Writers

Jorge Castillo, Washington Post, @jorgecastillo
J. Michael Falgoust, CSN Washington, @jmichaelcsn

Related Washington Wizards Blogs and Links

Washington Wizards Logo History, courtesy of Chris Creamer’s Sportslogos.net
Salary Page: Washington Wizards Salaries at Spotrac
FanSided Washington Wizards: Wiz of Awes
SB Nation Washington Wizards: Bullets Forever
ESPN TrueHoop Washington Wizards: Truth About It
HoopsHabit Washington Wizards Archive: Washington Wizards
Bleacher Report Washington Wizards Team Stream: Washington Wizards
RealGM Washington Wizards Page: Washington Wizards

Stats and retired number information courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com