Amidst the protests over the death and memorial of George Floyd, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a country seemingly on the brink, a Washington DC sports icon and legend passed away. Wes Unseld, who anchored the center position for the Washington Bullets, yes the Bullets, for 13 seasons at, what would be an undersized height by today’s standards, a mere 6 feet 7 inches, died on June 7th. Unseld played the position with an intimidating glare and powerful full court outlet pass that has never been duplicated.
There are somethings that take you back to what you yearn to recall as better time. I’m sure there are any number of things that were going on in 1978, but one thing any Washington basketball fan won’t forget is that that’s the year the Bullets won their only NBA Championship. Any Washingtonian who witnessed this feat can easily rattle off key players on that team starting with Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes, should-be Hall of Famer Bobby Dandridge, Kevin Grevey, Charles Johnson, Phil Chenier, Mitch Kupchak, and Greg Ballard. But it was Wes Unseld, who anchored and led this team to a game seven victory over the Seattle Supersonics in Seattle.
That series will also be remembered for its legendary coach Dick Motta who proclaimed after the Bullets disappointing game six loss at home that “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”. In 1978 she didn’t sing until the Bullets had pulled off an unlikely NBA Championship winning game seven 105-99 on the road. It was even more satisfying for me at the time because I was living on the west coast and everybody thought the Bullets should just be happy to be there.
There are some things that no matter what’s going on you have to take a moment to stop and say thanks. For Washington sports and D.C. basketball, which for so many years reigned as the hallmark of the city, The DC Voice says goodbye to a quiet, unassuming, but powerful DC sports legend.