Tribute Videos: Remembering Abe Pollin
David Stern: 'A Personal Friend'
NBA Commissioner David Stern remembers his friendship and professional relationship with Abe Pollin.
Play | 00:57
Mondale: 'He was a friend'
Former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale remembers his friend, Wizards owner Abe Pollin.
Play | 00:47
A Moment for Abe
Wizards fans paused for a moment of silence to honor Abe Pollin before Tuesday's game against the 76ers.
Play | 01:44
Celebrating a Championship
Chairman Abe Pollin celebrated the Washington Bullets' 1978 Championship.
Play | 00:50
Unseld, Grunfeld reflect on Pollin's
By John Mitchell, for NBA.com
As they prepared to play a basketball game in the building built by Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who passed away Tuesday afternoon, the many people whose lives he touched reflected on the legacy that Pollin, who bought the Washington Bullets in 1964 for $1.1 million, left behind.
Hall of Fame center Wes Unseld, the captain of the lone Washington team to ever win the NBA world championship, the 1978 Bullets, not only signed his first contract in 1968 with Washington but eventually went on to be both the coach and general manager of the franchise.
In 1969 Unseld won both the Rookie of the Year and League MVP honors as a Bullet. On Tuesday he lamented losing someone extremely close, a person whom the entire city was going to miss.
"There is going to be big void in Washington and I don't know how you are going to fill that void," said Unseld. "I have just lost a real, real good friend. I think it is more than anyone could understand or I could explain. Mr. Pollin just cared for people."
At 85, Pollin lost a battle to a rare neurological disease called corticobsal degeneration, an affliction that impairs muscle movement. Pollin, according to those who were still close to him and remained in contact with him, said that the owner remained lucid despite the condition.
"He was a competitor, a guy who was always going to fight," Unseld said.
Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld was the last general manager that Pollin would hire for the franchise, in June 2003. One year later under Grunfeld the Wizards would win their first playoff series in more than two decades.
"When he brought me in for an interview we didn't talk basketball for the first 30 minutes," Grunfeld, in his 20th season as a general manager, said. "He wanted to get to know me, then he wanted to know about my family and my friends. He cared about people; he was very big on that. I've enjoyed working with him and I owe him a lot."
He's not the only one. Ask anyone in the bustling neighborhood that surrounds the Verizon Center what the building has meant for the once depressed area and they become effusive. Where once stood abandoned building s and boarded up storefronts, now in their place stand high-end stores and top notch eateries.
Competed in 1997, the Verizon Center, which Pollin built with $220 million of his own dollars, has welcomed more than 27 million people to be a part of concerts, sporting events and family shows.
"It's a great loss of a great person," Unseld said.