Letter to Our Fans

Let's start with the most important thing I want to say: everyone in this organization deeply appreciates all your support. We all share something huge in common—a love for basketball, a love for the Wizards, and a strong, if not fanatical desire, to see the Wizards win every game and compete for a championship. Because you share these feelings with us, you are the people, more than anyone else, who keep us motivated to always do our best and put a winning basketball team on the floor.

You all know that we made some major moves right before this past Thursday's trade deadline. It was very painful to give up Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, and Dominic McGuire. They have all been important parts of our organization for many years, and have made great contributions to our team and community.

But the moves we made now give the team some excellent new players, and most importantly, tremendous flexibility in moving forward to create a winning team. We now have the ability to make some exciting moves in next summer's free agent market.

I want to be clear that we have the very same goal today that we had at the beginning of the season—to build a championship contender that all of you, our best and most cherished supporters, can fall madly in love with. But it had become clear over the past couple of months that achieving this goal will have to take a bit longer than we had thought when the season began in October.

The last few months have obviously been extremely difficult for all of us, including of course myself. When the season started, we considered our team a serious contender for a title. Almost every preseason poll I read—and believe, I read just about all of them—placed the Wizards in the top four in the East. That makes you a contender. These same polls unanimously chose the Wizards as being poised to make the biggest improvement from last season.

The logic behind all these polls was impeccable: we were bringing back Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood from injuries, we had acquired two excellent players in Randy Foye and Mike Miller, and we had hired one of the most successful and highly-regarded NBA coaches around in Flip Saunders. Last summer, my father instructed Ernie Grunfeld to "build me another championship team." Coming into the season, I think it is fair to say that Ernie did a great job in making this a feasible goal.

Alas, none of it was meant to be. Of course, my wonderful father is no longer with us. That is a loss beyond anything to do with basketball. Focusing on the Wizards, for lots of reasons, the team we started the season with just never meshed. We began with significant injuries to Antawn Jamison and then Mike Miller. We were losing too many close games. And then there was the infamous gun incident, which resulted in us losing our number one star player, Gilbert Arenas, for yet another season.

Sometimes reality bites. But you still have to face it head on, even as you might wish to look away. So, in facing reality straight on, it became clear to us that the team needed a fresh start. We all will greatly miss Antawn, Caron, Brendan, DeShawn, and Dominic. But a fresh start really means a fresh start.

This team is going to come back quickly. Mark my words—it is going to happen. Thanks for continuing to support the Wizards and helping the team we love flourish again.

With deepest appreciation once again,

Robert Pollin
Chief Executive Officer
Washington Sports and Entertainment