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How the KKK helped Earl “The Pearl” Monroe become a Knicks legend (and not a Pacer)

Apr 22, 2013, 2:31 PM EDT

Earl Monroe New York Knicks

If you talk about players I love to watch old footage of on YouTube, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe is near the top of the list. He had smooth one-on-one moves with a playground feel to his game that was very entertaining. He was a perfect fit in New York.

Monroe has a new book coming out on Tuesday where he talks in detail about his career. That includes how he forced his way out of Washington to ultimately end up with the Knicks.

But before New York called he almost ended up in the ABA with the Pacers, something he talks about in an excerpt from the book published on Deadspin Monday. Monroe wasn’t sold on the deal at first but started to warm up to it. There was a trade offer on the table and Monroe went to Indiana to meet the players.

So I went to the game and the Pacers won. Then, after the game, I went back to meet the Pacers’ players in the locker room. I liked them, too. But then, after they had showered and dressed, all the black players reached up over their lockers and starting bringing guns down. I was shocked to see this and asked, “Why do you guys have guns?”

“They got Ku Klux Klan everywhere around here outside Indianapolis and in the city, too,” one of the players said. “So we got guns to protect ourselves.”

That killed that trade. As you might expect.

Monroe held out for a few more days (he had left the team) and eventually was traded to the Knicks. And the rest is history.

  1. 4thquartermagic - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    If only Gilbert Arenas was born 50 years ago.

    • emosnar - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      Look another Gilbert Arenas and gun joke on cue.

  2. goraidersgospurs - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Now thats a reason to have guns in the locker room, sound like a great book to check out!!!

  3. 00maltliquor - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Crazy story. Crazy headline. Crazy all the way around. Wow.

  4. tombstone7 - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    KKK in Indy…….who knew!

    • dieteman - Apr 22, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      I actually attended the Indy chapter a few times in the early 90s, and the meetings were boring as hell. By then there were only about 15 members… we would talk for a bit over coffee, then there was a reading, then we watched a movie, all without leaving the conference room… there were some old robes in the coat room but we never even put them on. The 60s were a different world all right.

  5. realninerfan22 - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Just like wen Boston celtics fan took a number 2 on bill Russell bed…

  6. lessick - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    Earl Monroe never played for Washington. Monroe was traded from the Baltimore Bullets to the Knicks.

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      ah details, that wasn’t the point of the story, geeze.
      are you going to spell check us too?

      • lessick - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        Sorry…as a kid in Baltimore, Monroe’s leaving broke my heart. Old wounds.

      • mydoghasfleez - Apr 22, 2013 at 10:07 PM

        Just correcting a reporting error, not same as spell checking a comment.

  7. all4patriots - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    The story as told here cannot be true (I’m an old fart and was a fan back then).

    In 1971 trades between NBA teams and ABA teams simply did not occur. The NBA league office did not allow them. Players could be drafted into either league and could “jump” between leagues only at the end of their contracts, or if they were released (such as when cash-strapped ABA teams were having trouble making payroll).

    Thus Baltimore was NOT working on a trade pf Pearl to Indiana.

    Now, Earl’s agent might have been planning for when his contract was up or planning to sue to get his contract voided for lack of payment (I recall the Bullets owed him back money) but there was no planned trade to the Pacers Didn’t happen and couldn’t happen.

  8. badintent - Apr 23, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    When Earl retired, he had formed a music companyin New York and was trying to sign talent.Word on the street was that he was spending tons of $$$ on it, but I never heard of any big hits or big time talent signed. Tough to compete with Motown and the majors. And the Mob was getting theirs too, so tough biz

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