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Why didn't the Washington Bullets excite 1970s NBA fans?

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Over and Back NBA Podcast

Over and Back NBA Podcast


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We look at the Washington Bullets, winners of the 1978 NBA championship and three-time NBA Finalists with Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, in the latest edition of Over and Back's Basketball Mysteries of the 1970s.

Author Chris Elzey joins Jason Mann in discussing why the Bullets didn't excite many NBA fans during the late 1970s despite their success and having two top 50 all-time players, the Baltimore Bullets' 1971 Finals appearance with Unseld and Earl Monroe and breakup, acquiring Hayes from Houston, the move from Baltimore to the D.C. area, what made Hayes and Unseld so special, how shooting guard Phil Chenier stood out, the 1975 run to the NBA Finals with a well-balanced squad, classic playoff series vs. the Buffalo Braves and Boston Celtics, the surprising four-game sweep at the hands of Rick Barry's Golden State Warriors, adding Dave Bing in 1976, falling to the Cavaliers in the Miracle of Richfield, K.C. Jones being fired in favor of Dick Motta, falling to Moses Malone and the Rockets in 1977, Hayes getting sick of criticism, and the Bullets not drawing well at the box office.

We also discuss the surprising 1978 championship run, adding Bobby Dandridge as one of the first major NBA free agents, how injuries took a toll on their depth, coming together in the playoffs and knocking out George Gervin's San Antonio Spurs and Julius Erving's Philadelphia 76ers, defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in a 7-game classic, and how the team brought a divided Washington together. We look at the followup in 1979, overcoming a 3-1 deficit to beat the Spurs again, and falling short in a rematch vs. the Sonics.

Check out Chris' chapter on the Bullets in "DC Sports: The Nation's Capital at Play": https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/1572037