Abe Pollin

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The Independent Online

Abe Pollin, who died on 24 November aged 85, was the owner of the Washington Wizards basketball team. Pollin (pictured right with the NBA championship trophy in 1978) was the NBA's longest-standing owner, who stood out as someone who ran his teams like a family business. He bemoaned the excessive salaries encouraged by the free agency system and said it would have been difficult for him to keep the Wizards if it were not for the NBA's salary cap.

Born in December 1923, Pollin moved his family from Philadelphia to the Washington area when he was eight. After George Washington University he worked in his family's construction business and started his own company in 1957.

With two partners he bought the Washington Bullets in 1964 for a record $1.1m, buying out his partners four years later. He also acquired an expansion NHL ice hockey franchise, the Capitals.

Pollin considered his greatest accomplishment building the Wzards' stadium, the Verizon Center. He risked much of his fortune to build the arena in a neglected neighborhood, and it spearheaded a revitalisation of downtown Washington.

Pollin renamed his team in 1997 because of the violent connotation of the word "Bullets," in a city associated with crime.

The Bullets won the 1978 NBA title, and Pollin said he would not sell up until they won another championship. He repeated that vow from his wheelchair as he was inducted into the George Washington University Sports Executives Hall of Fame in March.