Wizards Owner Abe Pollin Dies At 85

There is a shroud of sadness and disappointment hovering over the Verizon Center tonight as the Washington Wizards prepare to face the 76ers.

That is because Abe Pollin, the highly respected owner of the Wizards, died earlier Tuesday of a rare brain disorder, supranuclear palsy, that impairs movement and balance.

Pollin, who moved to Washington from Philadelphia with his family at the age of 8, was the longest-tenured owner in the NBA.

''With Abe's passing, the NBA family has lost its most revered member, whose stewardship of the Wizards franchise, together with his wife Irene, has been a study in unparalleled dedication to the city of Washington,'' commissioner David Stern said in a statement. ''During his illness he fought with a determination and valor that will remain an inspiration to all. We extend our deepest sympathies to Irene and his two sons, to whom he was so very devoted, and to the entire Pollin family.''

Sixers coach Eddie Jordan and associate head coach Mike O'Koren spent five seasons-plus with the Wizards before being fired after 11 games of last season; Sixers assistant Randy Ayers was a Wizards assistant last season. Sixers assistant coach Jim Lynam served as a coach for the franchise, while current Sixers personnel scout John Nash served as a general manager.

Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld and several other executives are scheduled to address the media during the course of the evening.