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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wizards get No. 1 pick with draft lottery win

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) With a lucky charm from the franchise's best days, the Washington Wizards won the NBA's draft lottery Tuesday night.

Washington moved up from the No. 5 spot to earn the top pick in next month's draft, when it will likely choose between Kentucky freshman John Wall and national player of the year Evan Turner of Ohio State.

The Philadelphia 76ers, another disappointment this season, moved up from the sixth spot to grab the No. 2 pick. The New Jersey Nets continued the run of failure by teams with the best chance of winning, falling to the third.

The Wizards were represented by Irene Pollin, who wore the 1978 Bullets championship ring of her late husband, longtime owner Abe Pollin. When the Wizards pulled off the surprising win, Irene Pollin's jaw dropped and appeared to mouth "Oh my God!!" with wide eyes.

Abe Pollin died at age 85 in November.

"My husband wanted another (championship) so badly," she said. "He really did. So maybe this will be the beginning of another one."

The lottery victory is just about the only thing that has gone right in a disastrous year for the Wizards, marred by the suspension of All-Star Gilbert Arenas for bringing guns into the Verizon Center locker room. They finished 26-56 after being widely forecast to finish in the middle of the Eastern Conference.

Irene Pollin hopes the lottery win will help fans forget last season's turbulent year.

"Fans are fickle. But I think this is a wonderful thing for our fans who have really stuck by us," Pollin said. "They really have been through a very, very tough year. Actually when I got up and spoke to them, I was thanking them for sticking by us and being so supportive even though we had all the problems."

Now they hope the No. 1 pick can help spark a quick turnaround under Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who is close to completing a deal to buy the franchise from the Pollin family.

"We have a lot of work to do with the franchise," Leonsis said. "The players, the culture, the expectations, the discipline around the team, but I do think it is a breath of fresh air and does revive the franchise and gives us a shot to be an exciting team with a lot of expectations."



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