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Earl Monroe
Position(s) Guard
Jersey #(s) 10, 15
Listed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight 185 lb (84 kg)
Born November 21, 1944 (1944-11-21) (age 65)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Career information
Year(s) 1967–1980
NBA Draft 1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
College Winston-Salem State
Professional team(s)
Career stats (NBA)
Points     17,454
Assists     3,594
FT%     83.0
Stats @
Career highlights and awards
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Vernon Earl Monroe (born November 21, 1944, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American former professional basketball player known for his flamboyant dribbling, passing, and play-making. His nicknames include "Earl the Pearl," "Black Magic," and his Philadelphia playground nickname, "Black Jesus."




Early years

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

Monroe rose to prominence at a national level while playing basketball at then Division II Winston-Salem State University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Under the coaching of Hall of Fame coach Clarence "Big House" Gaines, Monroe averaged 7.1 points his freshman year, 23.2 points as a sophomore, 29.8 points as a junior and an amazing 41.5 points his senior year. In 1967, he earned NCAA College Division Player of the Year honors and led the Rams to the NCAA College Division Championship.

Baltimore Bullets

In 1967, the two-time All-American was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards) in the first round of the NBA draft (2nd overall pick). He won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in a season in which he averaged 24.3 points per game, and scored 56 points in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. This was the third-highest rookie total in NBA history at the time and also a franchise record (later broken by Gilbert Arenas on December 17, 2006).

He and teammate 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."[1] 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).

On December 1, 2007 the Washington Wizards retired Monroe's number 10 jersey.

New York Knicks

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, leading the Knicks to the 1973 NBA championship. That 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. He had played 926 NBA career games, scored 17,454 total points (18.8 ppg) and dished out 3,594 assists. Monroe, who, along with Pete Maravich, was among the first to transform the NBA game into an exhilarating art form, had his number 15 jersey retired by the Knicks on March 1, 1986.

Even Monroe admits that his flowing, fluid, silky-smooth on-court style of play was unique. He has said: "You know, I watch the games and even now I never see anyone who reminds me of me, the way I played."[2]


Off the court

  • 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.
  • He also 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 [2]
  • Monroe, his brother and his sister all have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.[3]
  • 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!"[4]
  • 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.[5][6]



External links

Preceded by
Dave Bing
NBA Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Wes Unseld


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