Earl Monroe

Earl Monroe

Earl Monroe: A Brief Biography

Vernon Earl Monroe is a retired American professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nicknamed as "Black Jesus" and "Earl the Pearl" due to his on-court success and flashy style-of-play, Monroe is a 1973 NBA Champion, 4-Time NBA All-Star, 1969 All-NBA First Team, and 1968 NBA Rookie of the Year.

Monroe rose to prominence at the national level while playing basketball for the then-Division II Winston-Salem State University. He averaged 7.1 points in his freshman year, 23.2 points in his sophomore year, 29.8 points in his junior season and an amazing 41.5 points his senior season. He helped the Rams to the NCAA College Division Championship and earned NCAA College Division Player of the Year honors in 1967.

Monroe was drafted as the second overall pick in the 1967 NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards). In his rookie year, he averaged 24.3 points per game and was named Rookie of the Year. In a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, he scored 56 points, which is the third-highest rookie total in NBA history.

Monroe became a cult hero with his ability to run fast breaks and finish at the rim with circus-like shots. In 1970, he scored 13 points in an overtime against the Detroit Pistons in a double-overtime victory, setting an NBA record. The record was later broken by Gilbert Arenas. Monroe was traded to the New York Knicks in 1971. Paired up with the equally flamboyant Walt Frazier, the two formed what was came to be known as the "Rolls Royce Backcourt".

Although questions were raised initially as to whether the two could co-exist in the same team, the duo eventually gelled together to form one of the most effective guard combinations of all time, propelling the Knicks to the 1973 NBA championship. The pair is also one of the few backcourts that consisted of two Hall of Famers and NBA 50th Anniversary Team members. Monroe, who was plagued through a series of knee injuries throughout his career, decided to retire in 1980. His flowing, fluid, silky-smooth on-court style of play was unique and is still nowhere to be found in the NBA.

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