Knicks legend Earl “The Pearl” Monroe had a storied career — and a life worth telling.
Here are some off-court highlights, in the retired ballplayer’s own words:
Earl stopped an armed robbery with his bare hands while trying to buy liquor on a Sunday in Lawnside, New Jersey
I wasn’t a hero or anything like that, I guess I just did it out of sheer instinct … This guy just happened to see us and pull a little .25 automatic on us and I just had quick hands and just took it from him ... I took the gun with me to Winston-Salem, when I went to school, because I hadn’t been down south before.
Earl was chased through rural Virginia by hooded Klansmen while he visited a college girlfriend
I see these cars are flashing their lights in front of me and cars are flashing their lights in back of me. Then I realized I was actually in the midst of a Ku Klux Klan rally. So I quickly got to the next right turn, took that turn and went down this street. And behind me all of a sudden these cars were starting to jet out and trying to catch me. So I put my foot to the metal and got out of there.
While playing in Baltimore, Earl smoked angel dust at a party at football player Bubba Smith’s house
This guy came up to me and told me to take a puff of this here. I didn’t know what it was, I was partying and drinking and whatnot. And he said, ‘Now don’t puff it too long, y’know, don’t take a big puff.’ So I took a looong puff. Next thing I know, I was in la-la land. There were bodies, women all around, Everything was in slow-motion … After I was able to come down off that, I promised myself I would never do that again, and thank goodness I haven’t.
Earl received a fan letter from Woody Allen
It said that he and his guys, they think I’m the greatest showman in the game. And that the Knicks should change their game to fit me, and that not to be distressed about how things have gone because things are going to be better.
Earl didn’t realize Miles Davis repeatedly offered him an orthopedic bed
When I had my surgery on my foot Miles used to call me and I could never understand what he was saying because he had this raspiness in his voice … So I used to always say ‘Uh huh, yeah, uh huh,’ and that’s what our conversations were like … It wasn’t until years and years later when I read his autobiography — y’know the only thing I could understand him saying was ‘bed’ — that I realized he was trying to offer me his orthopedic bed, you know, for me to recuperate with.
Earl held up the Knicks plane to Los Angeles after Game 4 of the 1973 NBA Finals looking for men who had assaulted him
The girl I was going with at the time, we were walking to get my car and these heavyset white guys who were drunk, they accosted me and one of them punched me. Tina, she was trying to pull me back and whatnot, and I was mad as hell. And so when I got my car — I had a gun in my car — I started riding around and looking for them. Finally she convinced me that I had to get out to the airport because I had a flight to catch and, you know, deal with this some other time.
Earl swears he was attacked by a ghost in his girlfriend’s Brooklyn apartment
I was just lying in the apartment and something just seemed to overcome me. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t do anything … So I started saying the Lord’s prayer. I started cursing it and saying the prayer again, and cursing it and saying the prayer. I wound up saying my mother’s favorite verse, the 23rd Psalm, and eventually it just kind of let me go … I don’t know if it’s a dream or whatever it is, but it’s like a 500-pound whatever is just lying on you and you can’t see it.
Earl Monroe will discuss his book “Earl the Pearl: My Story” — and hopefully his life — with Quincy Troupe at Billie Holiday Theater at Restoration Plaza [1368 Fulton St. between Marcy and Brooklyn avenues in Bedford-Stuyvessant, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl
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