Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pollin's Lasting Legacy in D.C.

WASHINGTON - The late Abe Pollin did more than own the Washington Wizards (web | news) . We're hearing from some of the people whose lives he touched and about his lasting legacy.

"I said we're going to take a major risk," recalled Abe Pollin two years ago.

Pollin spoke of a dangerous downtown D.C. Where he decided to build an arena

Mayor Marion Barry remembers that decision well.

Barry told us, "He called me the second week in office. Had this idea of taking the Bullets and the Caps into Washington."

With the city then too broke to do anything, Pollin came forward.

In January 1995, Pollin recalled his thoughts in that moment: "I'm going to show the citizens of Washington and the citizens of this country that I have faith in the city."

The result was a revitalized area, one downtown Pollin fan remembered Wednesday.

Peter Doherty said, "You didn't come to this neighborhood at night, pretty much and now (there are) restaurants, bars before the game, after the game, it's hoppin.'"

But as Pollin loved D.C., D.C. also loved Pollin. He visited the neighborhoods with his players during the holidays.

"We know that you're taking care of these kids, that you have a big heart," said Pollin.

There's Curtis Mozie, 40-something now, who remembers Pollin gave him a job at 14 as a ball boy for the Bullets. He's still got the memorabilia and the memories of Polin walking in the locker room one night after the Bullets beat the Lakers.

"Instead of going by me and going to the players, he came to me and gave me a big hug and a high five and said, 'Yeah, we got 'em,'" remembered Mozie.

And Mozie told us, "Whether you was a ball boy or a janitor at the arena or selling popcorn, he had a heart for everybody."

So it goes to show that one man can make a difference.
President Barack Obama (web | news | bio) issued a statement paying tribute to Pollin, saying that Pollin "believed in Washington, D.C., when many others didn't."

The funeral for Pollin will be held Friday at the Washington Hebrew Congregation but a public memorial service will be held on Dec. 8 at Pollin's Verizon Center, the arena that helped revitalize a downtrodden area of the city.

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