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Sep 27, 2021

It's a return to the Nation's Capital this week as we take a romp through Washington, DC's surprisingly rich pro basketball history with Brett Abrams (The Bullets, the Wizards, and Washington, DC Basketball).

While today's astute District hoops fans know the current Washington Wizards were once known as the Bullets - the name under which the franchise won its one and only NBA title back in 1978, and from which it converted to its mystically less violence-connoted label in 1997 - lesser devotees of the team are aware of its previous home (Baltimore: 1963-73), let alone its origins as the NBA's first-ever expansion club in 1961, the Chicago Packers.

Of course, true Washington basketball connoisseurs know the city's relationship with the professional game runs far deeper - dating all the way back to the mid-1920s American Basketball League "Palace Five" - owned by future Washington NFL football owner George Preston Marshall.

And in between, a host of teams - all domiciled in the NE quadrant's history-drenched Washington Coliseum (née Uline Arena) - attempted to keep pro hoops in the local sports spotlight:

  • The Red Auerbach-coached Capitols (1946-51) of the NBA-antecedent Basketball Association of America;
  • The half-season-lasting Tapers of Abe Saperstein's not-much-longer-lasting "new" American Basketball League (1961); and
  • The exceedingly curious single season (1969-70) American Basketball Association "Caps" - the peripatetic franchise that began its life (along with the ABA's) in 1967 as the Oakland Oaks, and ended as the regionally-oriented Virginia Squires until the league's demise in 1976.