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Posted at 4:03 PM ET, 12/10/2010

Bullets alumni come to town

By Dan Steinberg

"Bob and I got off the ark together," former Baltimore Bullets guard Fred Carter said Friday morning, nodding across a table at Bobby Dandridge. "Two by two."

"We weren't piloting it, either," said Dandridge, who helped the Washington Bullets win their world title.

"We go back to college," Dandridge continued. "We played each other in the NCAA consolation round. I think Freddy was supposed to be hurt, but he ended up with about 30-something."

"Shots, anyway," Carter said.

Dandridge and Carter were in D.C. for the first meeting of the Washington Bullets/Wizards Alumni Association, the new group formed at the urging of owner Ted Leonsis. Friday afternoon, about a dozen invited members -- also including Michael Adams, Kevin Grevey and Phil Chenier -- held a planning meeting with Leonsis and executive vice president of business operations Greg Bibb, talking about who should be eligible for the group, how members should keep in touch, and what its precise mission should be. Friday evening, the players are scheduled to appear at the Knicks game. In between, there was a lot of laughing, and a lot of "remember when..." stories.

Jack Marin, whom Dandridge called "Professor," told me about when Wes Unseld brought a fake rattlesnake on a trip to Arizona and hid it in teammate George Johnson's uniform.

"He looked like death when he saw it," Marin said. "Turned stone white."

Dandridge and Carter talked about the "threshold of pain" index they used to use, where "if you could walk, you played," as Carter put it, and how players now don't feel the same way. Dandridge said found out about the birth of his daughter after a game in Milwaukee. Carter remembered Kevin Loughery learning of the birth of a son during a Bullets road trip.

"That's the way it was," Carter said. "Now, a guy leaves the team for three days when his girlfriend is having a baby. That's mind-boggling to me."

"See," Dandridge said, laughing in the direction of a few Wizards employees. "This is the type of group you're gonna have."

The Wizards employees were there because this is a team-funded initiative, with Leonsis writing on his blog that the purpose is to learn "how to embrace and celebrate the past." The players said how important it was for them to keep in touch both with each other and with their former franchises, saying they still keep a special eye on all the teams they played for.

"It's in your heart," said Garry Witts, who played his only NBA season in Washington. "I'll always be a Bullet, I think."

And see, that's the tricky part with this particular franchise. In the past 40 years, the team has moved from Baltimore to Landover and then D.C., changing arena names and team names and color schemes along the way.

"That's somewhat unfortunate, because the history of the organization does get lost form the migration to Baltimore to Washington, then from the Cap Centre to here," said Carter, who now lives in Philadelphia. "When you mention Wizards and Bullets, now it becomes a separation of church and state almost. Because we're not Wizards. We're Bullets. And that's all we're ever gonna be. So now all of a sudden you come together, you change your name? We don't kind of hold that same identify, because everything we did was with the Bullets."

"A lot of fans really grew up going to Bullets games," agreed Dandridge, who is running the fledgling group. "Folks may be in their 30s but they reflect back to the Bullet days when their parents brought them to games, so I think the Bullets is still foremost synonymous with the team. I mean, people, if they aren't guarding their conversations, they will say Bullets just as quick as they'll say Wizards."

But it's not like the players were having existential crises about all this. Mostly, they were hugging and laughing and talking about old times.

"More than anything, it's fun," Marin said. "It's about great memories. It's a fraternity. It's all the obvious things. And it really does feel good."

It's also about being an old-timer, because when better to be an old-timer than when starting an alumni group. Not long after Dandridge and Carter had complained about modern players skipping games to see their children be born, Bibb noted that he was so sick last week he couldn't work out.

"That's what we're talking about," Dandridge scoffed. "These young guys."

"Suck it up," Carter agreed. "If you could walk, suck it up."

By Dan Steinberg  | December 10, 2010; 4:03 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Comments

Ted-
Taking a page right out of Bruce Allen's book.

Posted by: HogsHaven | December 10, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Bullets fever, happens to me every year!

Posted by: MrWillie | December 10, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Some of these old timers could probably suit up tomorrow and improve the performance of the team.

Posted by: randysbailin | December 10, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The franchise is in good hands with, Ted at the helm. It makes sense to involve guys thad had success as Bullets. I have fond memories of winner's suchs as Bobby D, Phil Chenier, Kevin Porter, Gus Johnson, Mike Riordon, Kevin Grevey and of course the two primary stars of that era, Wes & The Big E.

Posted by: Hattrik | December 10, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of memories, how 'bout Steve Colter, Chris Whitney, John "The Hot Plate" Williams, Jeff Malone, Mitchell Butler, GOD SHAMGOD (OMG), Tom Gugliotta(GOOOGS), Harvey Grant, A J English, LaBradford Smith......

Posted by: Mikereese23 | December 10, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Where can i buy a Ledell Eackles jersey?

Posted by: MrWillie | December 10, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

That's the reason I'm a Bullets fan.

Posted by: MGori | December 11, 2010 1:23 AM | Report abuse

I would probably care how the Washington pro basketball team was doing if they were still known at the Bullets. I grew up with them, and the city change I could live with... the name, no way. Now, I couldn't care less.

Posted by: Secesh | December 11, 2010 2:30 AM | Report abuse

Where was the "Big E"? My all time favorite Bullet!

Posted by: bobilly1 | December 11, 2010 6:12 AM | Report abuse

mr leonsis is doing all the right things and having bullets alumni at games is a fabulous tribute to better years past...now change the name...bullets is what is shud be....uniforms red white and blue...period...sounds like an organization i would want to work for..

Posted by: wmnatzakanian | December 11, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Changing the colors is a no brainer and I have no doubt will be red white and blue next season. The name change - while I would support it - I'm not sure how Ted does it.

He has gone to lengths to protect and preserve the legacy of the pollins. Granted maybe he could change it to something other than the Bullets and Wizards and I still think that would be a positive. "law makers, politicians, protesters, monuments" those aren't even good ideas and they would be better than Wizards.

Posted by: pjp5 | December 11, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Changing the colors is a no brainer and I have no doubt will be red white and blue next season. The name change - while I would support it - I'm not sure how Ted does it.

He has gone to lengths to protect and preserve the legacy of the pollins. Granted maybe he could change it to something other than the Bullets and Wizards and I still think that would be a positive. "law makers, politicians, protesters, monuments" those aren't even good ideas and they would be better than Wizards.

Posted by: pjp5 | December 11, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

=====================================

The way they have been playing the last 3 years suggests they should change their name to the Generals.

Posted by: bobilly2 | December 11, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

THE BIG "E",,,,,

My god, those were some wonderful years.

Posted by: Defund_NPR | December 11, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Where was Unseld? Ever since Abe died it has seemed as if he is estranged from the Wizards.

Posted by: oakiedokie | December 12, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Where are the bash brothers? I know Ruland lives in Montgomery County for his permanent home.

Just hoping these guys aren't exploited by the Leonsis machine and will be compensated for any public appearances. Most of these guys aren't making the big bucks any more.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | December 12, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Here's one for you. Chubby Cox We signed him to a 10 day contract back in 85 I believe. A guard. Think he is a school teacher in the area now

Posted by: Fx10 | December 14, 2010 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Big Gheorghe needs to be part of this group. Charles Jones, Brent Price, Ledell Eackles....

Posted by: dubv1980 | December 14, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

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