Thursday, January 24, 2008

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

From 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 the Division II level playing basketball at 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 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.
Earl is a member of the Groove Phi Groove, SFI.

Early years
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 formed a formidable one-two punch with Wes Unseld and 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 (since surpassed by Gilbert Arenas).

Baltimore Bullets
In 1971, Monroe was traded to the New York Knicks and formed a celebrity backcourt with equally flamboyant Walt Frazier. The duo meshed together to form one of the most deadly guard combinations of all time, featuring two Hall of Famers and NBA 50th Anniversary Team members. With Monroe, the Knicks won the 1973 NBA championship.
A four-time NBA All-Star, Monroe retired after the 1980 season due to serious knee injuries, which 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."

Earl Monroe New York Knicks

Monroe scored over 1,000 points in 9 professional seasons (1968-71, 1973,1975-78) including a career high 2,065 (25.8 points per game) in the 1968-69 season.
In 1990, he was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Monroe was named one of the 50 players on the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996.
Monroe was chosen commissioner of the United States Basketball League in 1985.
In 2005, an American Basketball Association team, the Baltimore Pearls, was named in honor of Earl Monroe.
He is the innovator of the spin move. Earl Monroe Notes

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".
In the film "The United States of Leland" Pearl Madison (Don Cheadle) is named after Monroe's nickname: "Pearl"

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