There are many wonderful stories coming out now about Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who died Tuesday at the age of 85. Many are touching and heartwarming, but this one stood out to us. It's from Warren Arbogast, founder and president of Boulder Management Group, LLC.
He sent this e-mail in to NBC4 Wednesday after hearing about Pollin's passing a day earlier. Read and enjoy:
When I was 15 (in 1978), my best friend turned 16 and got his driver's license. He and I and two other friends wanted to use our new-found freedom to drive ourselves around the Beltway (no parents!) from McLean to Landover to go see the Bullets and the Capitals play on the same day. Our parents were worried that there was nowhere in Landover for teenage boys to stay the hours between games, and they said “no” to us attending both games. They said we'd have to pick: Bullets or Caps. And we just couldn't.
So I called the Bullets and, in my most grown-up voice, I told the lady who answered the phone our story. She listened and then said, “hold on." After a moment, a man came on the phone. It was Abe Pollin. He said he understood my problem and made an offer: “If you boys bring homework to do between games, you can stay in the Capital Club restaurant (in the old Capital Centre).”
That restaurant seemed so fancy to us; it had waiters! :)
So we went to the Bullets game and, after it finished, we went to my friend's car, collected our books, and went back inside to the restaurant. They were expecting us. Mr. Pollin had arranged for us to have hamburgers, french fries and cokes (his treat). So, we ate our lunch and did our homework. As we sat doing our assignments, the waiter said we had company … and into the empty restaurant walked Abe Pollin.
He checked our work, ensuring we had assignments AND were making progress. He seemed genuinely pleased that we'd met our end of the agreement with him. Then he said: “You boys want to see how they turn the basketball court to ice?”
Did we ever!
Mr. Pollin walked us back into the chilly, empty arena. Machines carrying plywood echoed the cavernous space. And we stood, slack jaw and side-by-side with Abe Pollin ... and we watched the basketball court turn to a sheet of ice. After about twenty minutes he said, "OK boys, back to homework." And we went back to the restaurant and found dessert waiting for us, again on Mr. Pollin.
I saw him YEARS after. On the concourse of a Caps game. It was just before he sold the team. I walked up, shook his hand, and thanked him for lunch all those years before. He smiled, looked as if he recognized me (I doubt he did) and said: "So, did you get an A?"