The Washington Wizards announced today that the team will bring back its vintage white, blue, and bronze jerseys during select games throughout the 2022-23 season as part of a celebration of the team’s 25th anniversary of changing its name from Bullets to Wizards in 1997.
A video that touts the change depicts families sitting down to watch the Wizards on cathode-ray TVs using a jumbo universal remote.
Wizards fans cheer as Juwan Howard, Chris Webber, Jerry Stackhouse, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas, and John Wall dunk and drain threes. Memories of the MCI Center—now Capital One Arena—come whooshing back.
Michael Jordan, who came out of retirement to join the team for a few frustrating years, is glaringly absent from the montage, although a fan wearing his 23 jersey does appear for a split second. Also missing is 2002 Terps national champion and first round draft pick Juan Dixon.
The Baltimore Bullets moved down the 95 corridor and became the Capital Bullets in 1973, then the Washington Bullets in 1974. In 1997, they changed their name to the Washington Wizards during a crime epidemic that won DC the nickname the “Murder Capital.”
The team says it will continue to fundraise for organizations like the Alliance of Concerned Men, which works to intervene and prevent violence. It will donate 25 percent of proceeds from in-venue sales of Washington Bullets gear to the group and host a game where it will ask fans to wear orange to address gun violence.
Those classic jerseys might bring up other unwelcome memories, like the fact that the Wizards have managed only eight winning seasons since their name change. They’ve made nine playoff appearances, five of which ended in first-round losses, and they’ve never gotten past the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Current Wizards Kyle Kuzma, Bradley Beal, and Rui Hachimura are trying to turn that tide; they show off the revived jerseys in the video as fans on their phones next to Capital Bikeshare stations bring us into the present, where, despite the fact that ESPN projects the Wizards will win only 34 games in the upcoming season, anything could happen.