Abe Pollin

Abe Pollin:

When longtime Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, 85, died yesterday, last night's game between the 76ers and the Wizards went from interesting to emotional.

Pollin's death was announced late yesterday afternoon by his company, Washington Sports & Entertainment. No details were disclosed, but Pollin had undergone heart bypass surgery in 2005 and suffered from a rare brain disorder called "progressive supranuclear palsy."

Pollin, a Philadelphia native, was the longest-tenured owner in the NBA, having bought the Baltimore Bullets in 1964. He changed the team's name to "Wizards" in 1997 because of the violence implied by the word "Bullets" in a city with a high-crime rate.

The Bullets won an NBA championship in 1978 with stars Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes.

"It bordered on family," Unseld said of the team's relationship with Pollin. "Father figure? You could say that in the sense of respect and honor we had for him, because he showed that to us."

Before Pollin's death, last night's game looked only to be the official return of Sixers coach Eddie Jordan to his former home, the Verizon Center. Jordan, hired by Pollin in 2003, coached the Wizards for five-plus seasons before being fired exactly a year ago yesterday.

The Sixers hired Jordan in May.

Before last night's game, the talk was all about Pollin, although Jordan said emotion existed almost entirely in the Wizards' locker room.

"Our guys are disconnected from Mr. Pollin and all the things he meant to this team and this city," Jordan said. "That's why I've got to help my players understand that I'm with them. I can suffer personally inside, but I won't share that with this team. My team wants to hear direction; they want to get a game plan. I've got to be focused enough and professional enough to put aside my feelings and coach a game that we can win."

Sixers point guard Lou Williams said Jordan has not indicated any animosity toward the franchise that recently fired him.

"It hasn't been mentioned, talked about, none of that," Williams said. "As players, we're the ones that have to go out and play. He hasn't stressed it, the history or any vengeance toward them."

Butler missing. Last night, the Wizards were without two-time all-star forward Caron Butler, who was out with a sore right ankle. In 11 games, Butler was averaging 16.8 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. Fabricio Oberto replaced Butler in Washington's starting lineup.

Also missing for the Wizards was guard-forward Mike Miller, who is out three to six weeks with a strained calf.

credit: http://www.philly.com

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