Pollin put many more important factors ahead of winning. Most notably, he is well known to have rejected bad-character players and be fiercely loyal to those with strong character, maybe even to a fault (I'm looking at you Wes Unseld). Despite this strategy, he still managed to bring an NBA championship to DC in 1978.
He was also a strong philanthropist, but his greatest contribution to DC is the Verizon Center. Pollin took a huge risk and sacrificed a lot of his wealth to build that arena. The result? 'That arena' has completely revitalized (vitalized?) a downtown area to the benefit of all DC residents and become a model for any team looking to build a new stadium in terms of geographic location. It is not a coincidence that Pollin amassed his fortune in housing development. The arena has also had the effect of taking teams in peripheral sports (not football), and putting them right in the heart of DC, literally and figuratively.
A lot of people are excited that Ted Leonsis has stewarded the Caps well and will now likely take over the Wiz, but in an age of owners using their teams to make money (see Snyder, Dan), or being completely inept (see Dolan, James), it is hard to have anything but respect and admiration for Abe Pollin.
Antawn Jamison said it well, "Guys done so much, not only for this city but making this world a better place. It's tough. Sometimes you take things for granted, but it helps you put things in perspective and lets you know that this is only a game. It's a game he loved so much. He's truly going to be missed. But you know, every game we play from now on, he's going to be watching."
For all you have done Mr. Pollin, thanks, and rest in peace.
P.S. I have read through a bunch of the Pollin pieces and I like the recap on espn.com and the piece from Dan Steinberg with takes from members of the Wizards.
(Image courtesy of verizoncenter.com)