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Abe Pollin dies

Abe Pollin, 85, Washington's homegrown sports entreprenur who owned the Wizards and Mystics basketball teams and was chairmen and owners of Washington Sports & Entertainment organization, died today. He had been battling a degenerative brain disease, corticobasal degeneration, for several years.

Pollin was among the last of the old-school pro sports owners as a family business, shaped by his strong personality and his intense loyalties. His teams lost more than they won, and fans often criticized his personnel moves or his failure to spend more money, but there was no one in public life who loved Washington more than Pollin. I think of him as the George Halas of the mid-Atlantic.

His wealth came from his construction and development company -- it built several large apartment houses and office buildings, one of which featured the first-ever rooftop pool in Washington.

He was also a major philanthropist in the community, paying for affordable housing and endowing a local Boy's and Girl's Club, to his grandest project -- building the MCI Center (now Verizon) in 1997 and triggering a stunning renaissance of Gallery Place and surrounding neighborhoods.

We have a forum for people to leave their thoughts about Pollin; share your remembrances.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  November 24, 2009; 3:54 PM ET
Categories:  Athletes , Washington DC-area people  
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RIP Mr. Pollin. You were certainly one of the best.

Posted by: walter17 | November 24, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Respectfully, thanks goes out to ol' Abe.

He brought the Baltimore Bullets to Landover, built the great Capital Centre where I saw everything from the circus to Hall and Oates H20 Tour to Prince's Purple Rain Tour (we booed Mazerati off the stage LOL) to the Bullets to Go-Go Live and all the Back to School Boogies as well as graduations and Professional Wrestling. This was the building that Parliament/Funkadelic landed the 'Mothership' and 'Festival Style' concerts were the bomb.

Thank you Abe for all you did for PG County and all you did for Tony Cheng's neighborhood in revitalizing downtown into a mini Times Square. Thank you for that Championship and for 'Bullets Fever, it happens to me every year', for hosting all the ferocious matches featuring the Georgetown Hoyas, InterHigh B-Ball Championships, monster trucks, rodeos, and all the great events held.

RIP Old Man...

Posted by: kahlua87 | November 24, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately for the DC area, he was the embodiment, along with people like Leon Hess, of "nice guys finish last". He could not build a winner. The '78 championship was a fluke. The Bullets had tied for the eighth best record that year, and everyone good was knocked out ahead of them in the playoffs, excepting a really good series against Philly. After that, the Bullets/Wizards (don't get me started on the name change) have drifted for the last thirty years. God bless Abe Pollin--but as a person. As a basketball franchise owner, nice guy, but never near the top.

Posted by: ggreenbaum | November 24, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Abe Pollin was a great Washingtonian. To some extent I think Ted Leonsis has tried to emulate Pollin's example after buying the Washington Capitals hockey team from Pollin. So I have one suggestion for the Capitals as they play this season among the favorites to bring home a Stanley Cup championship.

"Win it for Abe!"

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 25, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I spoke with Mr. Pollin about a year and a half ago -- on the occasion of Israel's 60th anniversary -- about his presence during a pivotal moment in Israeli history. He recounted that as a young man, in 1946, I think, he accompanied his father to a meeting where many of the city's then-prominent Jewish business leaders were in attendance. He described two tough Israelis who stood as doorkeepers and the secretive nature of the gathering. Once all had entered and the door closed, and locked, the leader announced that they wouldn't leave until the group raised enough money to purchase a ship to send munitions to the Haganah, in what was then known as Palestine, prior to independence from the British. The money was raised, Pollin said all in attendance gave generously, munitions were collected from throughout the east coast, particularly Baltimore and DC, and the group purchased an old Baltimore freight ship, later renamed The Exodus 1947, the ship that carried Holocaust refugees to Israel but was seized by the British navy. The story is immortalized in a novel by Herman Wouk and a film, starring Paul Newman.

Posted by: areader10 | November 25, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

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