Reeling from criticism over the violent connotations behind the team's name, and the death of his friend and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin from an assassin's gun, the late Abe Pollin changed the name of his squad from the Washington Bullets to the Washington Wizards before the 1997-98 season.
It seemed like the fresh thing to do. Led by Chris Webber, Rod Strickland and Juwan Howard(notes), the then-Bullets had made their first playoff series in 11 years during 1996-97, they were set to be the Next Big Thing, and they even had a new arena to move into for '97-'98. But off-court troubles, even if they weren't deserved, got to Webber and Howard the next year. Gheorghe Mureşan was lost due to injury, and Strickland's motivation came and went. Webber was traded the following May, and the team didn't make the playoffs again until the 2004-05 season.
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