President Barack Obama on Wednesday mourned the passing of Abe Pollin, the late owner of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Washington Wizards who was also known for his philanthropic efforts.
Pollin passed away on Tuesday afternoon at the age of 85. The late owner was one of the most widely admired residents of the Washington, D.C. area. He first brought professional basketball and hockey to the area in the 1970s and the construction of the Verizon (nee MCI) Center is often credited with revitalizing downtown Washington in the 1990s.
Obama called Pollin "a giant in the world of professional sports and someone I was proud to call a friend."
Aside from owning a number of professional sports tems, Pollin was active in many local philanthropies.
Pollin bought the then Baltimore Bullets in 1964 and later moved the team in 1973 to the newly built Capital Centre in Landover, Md. Pollin was awarded the expansion Washington Capitals in 1974. Both teams moved to the then MCI Center in 1997. Pollin built the arena using his own funds during a time when many sports owners sought public funds for sports venues.
Pollin sold the Capitals to AOL executive Ted Leonsis in 1999. Pollin also owned the Women's National Basketball Association's Washington Mystics from their inception in 1998, which he later sold to Leonsis.