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No town on the planet has produced more basketball stars. Yet when it comes to basketball bars, DC is Nowheresville.
The only Bullets/Wizards spot with a pulse, in fact, is Grevey’s.
The former sharpshooter from Kentucky played for the Bullets from 1975 to 1983. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks and played for two years before retiring from hoops to open his upper-middle class sports bar in a Merrifield strip center.
And it’s thrived. Grevey’s run as a restaurateur has brought him more local renown than his basketball deeds.
Grevey and his pure left-handed jumper helped the Bullets win their first and only NBA championship in the 1977-’78 season, at the height of Bullets Fever. That same year, Grevey gained some national acclaim by making it all the way to the semifinals of theH-O-R-S-E contest run by CBS, where he got whupped by Pete Maravich.
The nice weather brought out enough folks to fill Grevey’s patio, which has no hint of his Bullets stardom, for Thursday’s happy hour.
There are no other basketball bar stars around here.
A lot of folks, however, miss Mike Riordan’s Annapolis drinkery, Riordan’s Saloon. The small forward, who won a title with the New York Knicks in 1970, came to the Bullets in 1972, a year before time Abe Pollin’s move from Baltimore. He retired a Bullet in 1977 and immediately opened a drinking establishment and eatery downtown in the Maryland capital. He made a grand stand against the killing of baby seals in 2006, vowing to never serve Canadian seafood again until the practice stopped in the Great White North.
The seals are still being clubbed, but Riordan’s, after three decades in business, closed its doors in July 2007.
Tough-luck circus center Manute Bol briefly had Manute Bol’s Spotlight, a wannabe jazz club on U Street that the ex-Bullet fan fave (1985-1988) opened in 1995.
Along the way to throwing away his every last dollar in retirement, Bol lost a reported minimum of $500,000 on the bar. Which, though a nice chunk of change for anybody to flush, wasn’t as painful for Bol as the $3.2 million he gave to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
That’s a rebel group of Dinka tribesmen in his native Sudan that turned on Bol after fleecing him.
Last and least, we have Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse.
Jordan opened his eponymous eatery in the Reagan Building shortly after Ted Leonsis convinced him to get in bed with former nemesis Abe Pollin and become president of the Wizards in January 2000. Then Pollin famously and boldly kicked him to the curb in 2003, and Jordan drove away in that convertible with Illinois plates and never ate meat in this town again.
His restaurant shut down in January 2004.