NBA legend Earl “The Pearl” Monroe joined the show Monday to talk about his new book, Earl the Pearl: My Story.
What does he like about the current NBA, and what does he wish would change?:
“I like the pace of the game. You know, it’s a little more ferocious, so-to-speak… And I think the other thing is the fact that you don’t have a lot of real centers in the game so you’re playing mostly forwards, your 3 forward and 2 guard, 3 guards and 2 forwards a lot of times. And the pace of the game picks up when you have it like that. I think that if I was to say something that I didn’t like about the game, I don’t like the fact that the guys are coming out of college now with one year experience of college. I think only a few guys will be able to make that. Other guys will be falling by the wayside when they get into the league because they can’t keep up.” In his book, he talks about basketball being his “refuge”
Was it his release from a troubling racial time?:
“Well, yeah, because it was about camaraderie and the guys that you played with and whatnot. But even in that instance, even in Philadelphia, we had so many race riots and whatnot… But even after that, going into Western Salem, you know, that was down south… we had to watch ourselves down there as well. And I think one of the things when you think about racism in that era in time, what you don’t really think about is the fact that this is just rampant, and it was something that was just isolated in any way. We understood that we couldn’t go certain places, that we couldn’t do certain thing, we couldn’t eat in certain restaurants. And it was just a way of life.”
On his own creativity and who reminds him of his game:
“For me, it was all trial and error… I was really a novice when I started, so everything I did was, if it worked I kept it. If it didn’t work I discarded it…One of my nicknames is Thomas Edison because I was inventing shots as I came down, inventing moves and things like that, and that just came to be a trademark of mine… When I look at the game today, I look pretty much at a lot of the stuff that I was doing just on a different level… I look at the game, and I see my game, just a little bit higher.”
Which past opponents stand out to him?
“Big Oscar Robertson was one of those guys, and I guess because as a guy that just started playing when Oscar got into the league, I kind of looked up to him… He was a big guard, and it was a chore to try and play against him. It was a load.… And also you mentioned him earlier, Bobby Dandridge. Bobby is probably one of the most underrated players that’s played in the NBA. And we played against each other in college, and we always battled, and he wound up with 2 rings.”
Order Earl the Pearl: My Story starting Tuesday, April 23.