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Remembering Abe Pollin

Marion Barry had just been sworn in as mayor for the second time in January 1995, when a staffer told him that Abe Pollin, the philanthropist and entrepreneur who died Wednesday, had a belated Christmas present for Barry.

Then Pollin called.

"Mr. Mayor, Marion I want to take the Bullets and I want to put them in downtown Washington."
The then Washington Bullets were playing at the Capital Centre in Landover.

Barry said his first question was: "Abe do you think that this is a good investment?"

Barry recalled his 30 year relationship with Pollin as he stood outside the Verizon Center Wednesday night. He said the act was typical of the man. Pollin was a man who wanted to give back to the city he loved.

He built housing units for low income residents, and he led the way to revitalize the area around Gallery Place -- beginning with the effort to build an arena with his own money.

Pollin put up $220 million for what would become the MCI Center.

As fans flocked to see the Wizards play Wednesday night, Barry said Pollin's legacy would go far beyond the team or the building.

"He used to go to Calvary Baptist Church and serve meals to the homeless," Barry said pointing in the direction of the nearby church. "He changed the name of the Bullets because he was concerned about the name sending the wrong message. He was a great humanitarian."

By Washington Post editors  |  November 27, 2009; 9:06 AM ET
Categories:  Hamil R. Harris  
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Mayor Barry will also receive the same recognition as Abe Pollin; He loved D.C. Heaven forbid the mayor passes away any time soon, but he too should receive the recognition he deserves (while he lives) for his contributions to this city. Say what you will or may about Marion Barry's personal life, but before you do, think about the mistakes you've made and thank God you're not a public figure like he is. Because if you were, everyone would know that you had some serious baggage too. Abe Pollin did do a lot for this city, and he deserves his accolades. We are a better city due to his generousity. Pray that whoever follows him, will not only have his financial means, but will have his heart also. As far as him firing Michael Jordan; I would have fired him too! His first executive decision was to draft, of all people, Kwame Brown, as the first player in the draft. Gilbert Arenas was also in that draft. Mike then proceded to "give" Detroit a championship by trading Rip, Sheed and Ben to Detroit for his alumnus Stackhouse. I personally think that it was the smartest thing Abe ever did!!! And he stood by it like the man that he was!! R.I.P. Mr. Pollin.

Posted by: heygriff | November 27, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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