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Vernon Earl Monroe (born November 21, 1944) is an American retired professional basketball player. He played for two teams, the Baltimore Bullets and the New York Knicks, during his career in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Both teams have retired Monroe's number. Due to his on-court success and flashy style-of-play, Monroe was given the nicknames "Black Jesus" and "Earl the Pearl". Monroe was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990.

Earl Monroe
EarlthePearlatBarnes&Noble.JPG
Monroe in 2013
Personal information
Born (1944-11-21) November 21, 1944 (age 74)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High schoolJohn Bartram
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
CollegeWinston-Salem State (1963–1967)
NBA draft1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall
Selected by the Baltimore Bullets
Playing career1967–1980
PositionShooting guard / point guard
Number33, 10, 15
Career history
19671971Baltimore Bullets
19711980New York Knicks
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points17,454 (18.8 ppg)
Rebounds2,796 (3.0 rpg)
Assists3,594 (3.9 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Monroe was a playground legend from an early age. His high school teammates at John Bartram High School called him "Thomas Edison" because of the many moves he invented.

Growing up in his South Philadelphia neighborhood, Monroe was initially interested in soccer and baseball more than basketball . By age 14, Monroe was 6'3" and his interest in basketball grew, playing center during most of his youth. Some of his "shake-and-bake" style moves originated while playing on the asphalt playgrounds. "I had to develop flukey-duke shots, what we call la-la, hesitating in the air as long as possible before shooting," Monroe said.[1] As he was developing as a teenage player, other players would razz him. His mother gave Earl a blue notebook and told him to write down the names of those players. "As you get better than them," Monroe said his mother instructed, "I want you to scratch those names out."[2]

After graduating from Jonn Bartram High School, Monroe attended a college preparatory school affiliated with Temple University. He worked as a shipping clerk in a factory, while frequently playing basketball at Leon Whitley's recreation center in Philadelphia. Whitley had played at Winston-Salem Teacher College on their 1953 championship team and encouraged Monroe to attend Winston-Salem to play for coach Clarence "Big House" Gaines.[3]

College careerEdit

Monroe rose to prominence at a national level at then-Division II Winston-Salem State University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Under Hall of Fame Coach Gaines, Monroe averaged 7.1 points his freshman year and Monroe tells a story of when he wanted to return to Philadelphia as a freshmen. Coach Gaines called Monroe's mother and after a stern talk, Monroe stayed in college.[4]

Monroe then averaged 23.2 points as a sophomore, 29.8 points as a junior and an amazing 41.5 points his senior year (1,329 points in that 1966–1967 season). During that 1966–1967 season, Jerry McLeese, a sportswriter for the Winston-Salem Journal, called Monroe's points "Earl's pearls."[5] Soon after, fans began to chant "Earl, the Super Pearl," and the nickname was born.[6][3]

In 1967, Monroe earned NCAA College Division Player of the Year honors, leading the Rams to the 1967 NCAA College Division Championship with a 77–74 victory over SW Missouri State in the Final.[6]

Overall, in his four years at Winston-Salem State University, Monroe averaged 26.7 points, with 2,395 total points in 110 games.[6]

After he finished his collegiate career, Monroe graduated from Winston-Salem and passed the national teaching exam. Monroe wasn't selected to the 1967 USA Basketball Team to represent the country at the 1967 Pan-American Games after trying out. The 40-person committee failed to select both Monore and fellow future Hall of Fame player Elvin Hayes.[7][3][8][9] Monroe has said that USA coaches said his style of play was "too street, too playground, too black." adding, "It has always left a very, very bad taste in my mouth."[2]

NBA careerEdit

Baltimore Bullets (1967–1971)Edit

In 1967, the two-time All-American was drafted No. two overall by the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards) in the first round of the 1967 NBA draft, behind Jimmy Walker, who was selected by the Detroit Pistons. Monroe then won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in a season in which he averaged 24.3 points per game. He scored 56 points in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the third-highest rookie total in NBA history. It was also a franchise record, later broken by Gilbert Arenas on December 17, 2006.

Monroe and teammate, future Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Wes Unseld, quickly became a formidable combination in Baltimore, and Monroe became a cult hero for his ability to run the fast break and for his circus-like shots. He said, "The thing is, I don't know what I'm going to do with the ball, and if I don't know, I'm quite sure the guy guarding me doesn't know either."[10] On February 6, 1970, he set an NBA record with 13 points in one overtime in a double-overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons (another mark since surpassed by Arenas).

In 1968–1969, Monroe averaged 25.8 points, 4.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds, as the Bullets finished 57–25 under coach Gene Shue, capturing the Eastern Division title. However, the Bullets were swept by the New York Knicks 4–0 in the playoffs after receiving a bye.[11]

The Bullets finished 50–32 in 1969–1970, as Monroe averaged 23.4 points, 4.9 assiste and 3.1 rebounds, making the NBA All-Star team. The Bullets were again beaten by the Knicks 4–3 in the playoffs.[12]

In 1970–1971, the Bullets finished 42–40 under Coach Shue and captured the Central Division title. Monroe averaged 21.4 points, 4.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds. In the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Bullets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 4–3, and then defeated the Knicks 4–3 in the Eastern Conference Finals to reach the 1971. NBA Finals.[13] Monroe averaged 23.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.4 rebounds in the Philadelphia series.[14] He then averaged 24.4 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds against the Knicks, including 26 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in Game 7's 93–91 Bullets victory.[15][16]

In the 1971 NBA Finals, the Bullets were matched against the Milwaukee Bucks with Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and Bobby Dandridge. The Bucks swept the Bullets 4–0. Monroe averaged 16.3 points, 4.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in the series.[17]

"Put a basketball in his hands and he does wondrous things with it," Bullets Coach Gene Shue said of Monroe. "He has the greatest combination of basketball ability and showmanship."[18]

After the 1970–1971 season, Monroe's agent Larry Fleischer told the Bullets of Monroe's wishes to be traded to the Lakers, Bulls, or Sixers. After four games into the 1971–1972 season, he traveled to Indianapolis to discuss a transfer to the American Basketball Association's Indiana Pacers.[19] Monroe was then traded on November 10, 1971, with Monroe going from the Bullets to the New York Knicks for Mike Riordan, Dave Stallworth and cash.[6]

In 328 games with the Bullets, Monroe averaged 23.7 points, 4.6 assists and 3.7 rebounds.[6]

New York Knicks (1971–1980)Edit

In 1971, Monroe was traded to the New York Knicks and formed what was known as the "Rolls Royce Backcourt" with the equally flamboyant Walt Frazier. While there were initial questions as to whether Monroe and Frazier could coexist as teammates, the duo eventually meshed to become one of the most effective guard combinations of all time.

In 1971–1972, Monroe averaged 21.7 points in his three games with the Bullets before the trade and he struggled to adjust after the trade, averaging 11.4 points, 2.2 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 60 Knick games.[6] However, the Knicks defeated the Bullets 4–2 and the Boston Celtics 4–1 to reach the 1972 NBA Finals. Monroe averaged 15.8 points and 3.3 assists in the Bullets series against his former teammates.[20] In the Celtics series he averaged 13.6 points and 3.8 assists.[21]

In the 1972 NBA Finals, the Knicks were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers with Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain 4–1, losing four straight after winning Game 1. Monroe averaged 6.8 points and 2.6 assists in the series.[22]

In 1972–1973, Frazier and Monroe lead the Knicks, under future Hall of Fame Coach Red Holtzman to the 1973 NBA Championship, along with future Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame teammates Bill Bradley, Jerry Lucas and Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere and Phil Jackson.[23]

After a 57–25 regular season, in which Monroe averaged 15.5 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds, Monroe had his role on the team defined. The Knicks then defeated the Bullets 4–1 and the Celtics 4–3 to reach the 1973 NBA Finals.[23][24]

In the NBA Finals, the Knicks had a rematch against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Knicks won the Championship with a 4–1 series win and 16.0 points and 4.2 assists from Monroe in the series. Bradley averaged 18.6, Frazier 16.6, Reed 16.4 and DeBusschere 15.6 to illustrate the Knicks' true team play.[25]

In 1973–1974, the Knicks, after defeating the Bullets, were defeated by the eventual NBA Champion Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Monroe averaged 14.0 points and 2.7 assists with 3.0 rebounds in the regular season. [26]

In the next four seasons, Monroe averaged 20.9 points, 20.7 points, 19.9 points and 17.8 points, before injures limited him in games and minutes during his final two seasons.

The Monroe-Frazier pairing is one of few backcourts ever to feature two Hall of Famers and NBA 50th Anniversary Team members. A four-time NBA All-Star, Monroe retired after the 1980 season due to serious knee injuries, which had plagued him throughout his career. In nine seasons and 592 games with the Knicks, Monroe averaged 16.2 points, 3.5 assists and 2.6 rebounds.[6]

Overall, Monroe played in 926 NBA career games, scoring 17,454 total points with 3,594 assists on 46% shooting. He averaged 18.8 points, 3.9 assists and 3.0 rebounds in his career. Monroe scored over 1,000 points in nine of his thirteen professional seasons (1968–71, 1973, 1975–78) including a career high 2,065 (25.8 points per game) in the 1968–69 season.[6]

Of his unique, flowing, fluid, silky-smooth on-court style of play, Monroe has said: "You know, I watch the games and even now I never see anyone who reminds me of me, the way I played."[27] "The ultimate playground player," is how Bill Bradley once described Monroe.[1]

"If for any reason someone were to remember me," Monroe said, "I hope they will remember me as a person who could play the game and excite the fans and excite himself."[18]

PersonalEdit

  • Monroe has one son, Rodney, and a daughter, Maya. Rodney Monroe played for the Atlanta Hawks after a stellar career at North Carolina State and Maya has coached in high school and college.[28]
  • Monroe was named commissioner of the United States Basketball League in 1985.
  • In 2012 Earl Monroe launched a new candy company: NBA Candy Store [1]
  • In recent years, he has been serving as a commentator for Madison Square Garden and as commissioner of the New Jersey Urban Development Corporation.
  • Monroe has also been active in various community affairs and programs, including the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Health, the Crown Heights Youth Collective, the Literary Assistance Fund and the Harlem Junior Tennis Program. He has received many honors for these "off-the-court" community activities, including the Harlem Professionals Inspirational Award, Most Outstanding Model for American Youth, the YMCA Citizenship Award and Big Apple Sportsman of the Year Award.
  • Monroe served as a spokesman for the American Heart Association, along with his former Knicks teammate Walt "Clyde" Frazier.
  • In October 2005, Monroe opened a restaurant in New York City, named "Earl Monroe's Restaurant & Pearl Club". However, Monroe has since revoked the licensing rights to his name and the restaurant is now called The River Room.[29]
  • Monroe, his brother and his sister all have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.[30]
  • Monroe is a spokesman for Merck's Journey for Control website, where he serves as a promoter of diabetes-friendly eating and "Diabetes Restaurant Month!"[31]
  • Earl Monroe now owns and operates his own record label, Reverse Spin Records in New York, doing pop, dance, hip-hop and R&B music, currently with pop/dance artist Ciara Corr.[32][33]
  • In the Spike Lee film He Got Game, Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington) explains to his son, Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), that his name was inspired by Monroe's nickname: "Jesus".
  • Monroe is also a member of Groove Phi Groove
  • From 1980 to 1981, Monroe had an endorsement deal with Jordache for a signature line of basketball sneakers that bore his nickname "Pearl" near the heel.[34]

HonorsEdit

NBA career statisticsEdit

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denotes season in which Monroe won an NBA championship

Regular seasonEdit

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1967–68 Baltimore 82 36.7 .453 .781 5.7 4.3 24.3
1968–69 Baltimore 80 38.4 .440 .768 3.5 4.9 25.8
1969–70 Baltimore 82 37.2 .446 .830 3.1 4.9 23.4
1970–71 Baltimore 81 35.1 .442 .802 2.6 4.4 21.4
1971–72 Baltimore 3 34.3 .406 .722 2.7 3.3 21.7
1971–72 New York 60 20.6 .436 .786 1.5 2.2 11.4
1972–73 New York 75 31.6 .488 .822 3.3 3.8 15.5
1973–74 New York 41 29.1 .468 .823 3.0 2.7 .8 .5 14.0
1974–75 New York 78 36.1 .457 .827 4.2 3.5 1.4 .4 20.9
1975–76 New York 76 38.0 .478 .787 3.6 4.0 1.5 .3 20.7
1976–77 New York 77 34.5 .517 .839 2.9 4.8 1.2 .3 19.9
1977–78 New York 76 31.2 .495 .832 2.4 4.8 .8 .3 17.8
1978–79 New York 64 21.8 .471 .838 1.2 3.0 .8 .1 12.3
1979–80 New York 51 12.4 .457 .875 .7 1.3 .4 .1 7.4
Career 926 ? 32.0 .464 .807 3.0 3.9 1.0 .3 18.8
All-Star 4 3 21.3 .359 .706 3.0 2.8 .3 .0 10.0

PlayoffsEdit

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1969 Baltimore 4 42.8 .386 .806 5.3 4.0 28.3
1970 Baltimore 7 42.7 .481 .800 3.3 4.0 28.0
1971 Baltimore 18 37.3 .407 .793 3.6 4.1 22.1
1972 New York 16 26.8 .411 .789 2.8 2.9 12.3
1973 New York 16 31.5 .526 .750 3.2 3.2 16.1
1974 New York 12 33.9 .491 .855 4.0 2.1 0.7 0.8 17.4
1975 New York 3 29.7 .267 .818 3.0 2.0 1.3 0.7 14.0
1978 New York 6 24.2 .387 .611 0.8 2.8 1.0 0.0 9.8
Career 82 ? 33.1 .439 .791 3.2 3.2 0.9 0.5 17.9

Career highsEdit

40-point gamesEdit

Points Opponent Home/Away Date FGM FGA FTM FTA
56 Los Angeles Lakers Home February 13, 1968 20 33 16 22
49 Detroit Pistons Home February 24, 1968 16 17 26
46 Philadelphia 76ers Home March 20, 1968 19 39 8 8
45 Philadelphia 76ers Home February 3, 1968 17 11 13
44 Cincinnati Royals Away February 17, 1968 16 12 16
42 San Francisco Warriors Away March 5, 1969 18 36 6 8
41 Milwaukee Bucks Away February 7, 1969 17 34 7 8
41 Chicago Bulls Away March 21, 1969 20 33 1 3
40 New York Knicks Home February 28, 1968 13 14 17
40 San Francisco Warriors Home March 21, 1970 13 14 14

Regular seasonEdit

Stat High Opponent Date
Points 56 vs. Los Angeles Lakers February 13, 1968
Points, half (2nd) 37 vs. Los Angeles Lakers February 13, 1968
Points, overtime 13 vs. Detroit Pistons February 6, 1970
Field goal percentage
Field goals made 20 vs. Los Angeles Lakers February 13, 1968
Field goals made 20 at Chicago Bulls March 21, 1969
Field goal attempts 39 vs. Philadelphia 76ers March 20, 1968
Free throws made, none missed 14—14 vs. San Francisco Warriors March 21, 1970
Free throws made 17 vs. Detroit Pistons February 24, 1968
Free throw attempts 26 vs. Detroit Pistons February 24, 1968
Rebounds 17
Assists 13
Steals
Blocked shots
Minutes played

PlayoffsEdit

Stat High Opponent Date
Points 39 (2 OT) at New York Knicks March 26, 1970
Field goal percentage
Field goals made 14 (2 OT) at New York Knicks March 26, 1970
Field goals made 14 vs. New York Knicks March 31, 1970
Field goal attempts 35 vs. New York Knicks March 27, 1969
Free throws made 13 vs. New York Knicks April 18, 1971
Free throw attempts 15 vs. New York Knicks April 18, 1971
Rebounds 9
Assists 7
Steals
Blocked shots
Minutes played 54 (2 OT) at New York Knicks March 26, 1970

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "NBA.com: Earl Monroe Bio". www.nba.com.
  2. ^ a b Madison, Drew University 36 Madison Avenue; Nj 07940 973-408-3000. "The 5 Best Stories From Earl Monroe at Drew University - Drew Today - Drew University". Drew Today.
  3. ^ a b c "Vernon Earl/Earl the Pearl Monroe (1944- ) • BlackPast". July 16, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Bell, Daryl. "Winston-Salem State retires Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe's number". The Philadelphia Tribune.
  5. ^ https://www.journalnow.com/townnews/sport/ram-ramblings-jerry-mcleese-who-gave-earl-the-pearl-monroe/article_10dfc046-5f96-11e9-9636-d34f14dae4c6.html
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Earl Monroe Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  7. ^ "Becoming 'Earl the Pearl': How Earl Monroe earned his famous nickname". Sporting News. April 24, 2013.
  8. ^ http://www.startribune.com/naia-stars-stole-the-show-at-1967-pan-am-games-auditions/441092483/
  9. ^ "FIFTH PAN AMERICAN GAMES -- 1967". www.usab.com.
  10. ^ "Monroe's biography at". Nba.com. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  11. ^ "1968-69 Baltimore Bullets Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  12. ^ "1969-70 Baltimore Bullets Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  13. ^ "1970-71 Baltimore Bullets Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  14. ^ "1971 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals - Philadelphia 76ers vs. Baltimore Bullets". Basketball-Reference.com.
  15. ^ "1971 NBA Eastern Conference Finals - Baltimore Bullets vs. New York Knicks". Basketball-Reference.com.
  16. ^ "Baltimore Bullets at New York Knicks Box Score, April 19, 1971". Basketball-Reference.com.
  17. ^ "1971 NBA Finals - Baltimore Bullets vs. Milwaukee Bucks". Basketball-Reference.com.
  18. ^ a b "Legends profile: Earl Monroe". NBA.com.
  19. ^ Sheridan, Chris (June 13, 2011). "For Monroe, ring not always the thing". ESPNNewYork.com. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  20. ^ "1972 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals - New York Knicks vs. Baltimore Bullets". Basketball-Reference.com.
  21. ^ "1972 NBA Eastern Conference Finals - New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics". Basketball-Reference.com.
  22. ^ "1972 NBA Finals - New York Knicks vs. Los Angeles Lakers". Basketball-Reference.com.
  23. ^ a b "1972-73 New York Knicks Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  24. ^ "Earl Monroe - American basketball player". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  25. ^ "1973 NBA Finals - New York Knicks vs. Los Angeles Lakers". Basketball-Reference.com.
  26. ^ "1973-74 New York Knicks Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  27. ^ Jacobson, Mark (October 31, 2005). "Knicks Legend Earl the Pearl Monroe Ups the Ante on Jock Food". Nymag.com. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  28. ^ "Maya Monroe, Daughter of New York Knick Great Earl Monroe, Named York College Assistant Women's Basketball Coach – CUNY Newswire".
  29. ^ "www.theriverroomofharlem.com is Expired or Suspended". www.theriverroomofharlem.com. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  30. ^ "NBA Legends Frazier and Monroe Team up Once More to Educate". Diabeteshealth.com. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  31. ^ "Home Court of Diabetes Restaurant Month". Journeyforcontrol.com. Archived from the original on November 26, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  32. ^ Klingaman, Mike (October 6, 2009). "Catching Up With...former Bullet Earl Monroe". The Baltimore Sun. The Toy Department. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  33. ^ "About". Reverse Spin Records. Archived from the original on August 26, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  34. ^ "Jordache Earl "The Pearl" Monroe Sneaker 1980-1981 « DeFY. New York-Sneakers,Music,Fashion,Life". Defynewyork.com. September 29, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  35. ^ November 21, CBC Sports ·; 2007. "Wizards retiring Earl Monroe's No. 10 - CBC Sports". CBC.

Monroe, Earl; Troupe, Quincy (2013). Earl The Pearl: My Story.

External linksEdit