Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe's Long-Awaited Biography Doesn't Disappoint

Benjamin J. BlockCorrespondent IIApril 22, 2013

Earl "The Pearl" Monroe and Benjamin J. Block
Earl "The Pearl" Monroe and Benjamin J. Block

It was widely deemed an inevitable disaster when the New York Knicks announced that they had traded for Earl "The Pearl" Monroe prior to the 1971-72 season.

There wasn't a single fan in any of the five boroughs that was convinced Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Monroe could exist on the same team unless there were two basketballs.

Leading up to 1971, that was all the talk around water coolers at work, playgrounds at school and on subway platforms between strangers who were bonded solely by their love of the Knicks.

As a member of the Baltimore Bullets, Monroe tantalized opponents with unstoppable and inventive spin moves and an enviable ability to get off a shot anywhere on the court.

The Knickerbocker version of The Pearl was a player who sacrificed super-stardom for the betterment of the team, and a 1972-73 championship ensued because of that.

This period in Monroe's life is just a microcosm of the events and issues he tackles in his biography Earl the Pearl: My Story, which hits bookshelves April 23, 2013. 

With the prominent Rodale publishing platform and the award-winning New York Times bestselling author Quincy Troupe by his side, the now-69-year-old Monroe takes readers on a wild ride.

Troupe—collaborator with jazz musician Miles Davis on Miles: The Autobiography and co-author of the best-selling novel Pursuit of Happyness—racks up the assists as Earl's story is guaranteed to resonate with audiences old and young.

Former teammate and U.S. Senator Bill Bradley wrote a slam-dunk foreword, ending in the sentiment, "The quiet man has finally spoken. It is a story worth reading, as his life has been a life worth leading." 

Maybe it's because Earl has held these stories so close to the vest until now, or maybe it's the conversational fashion in which he ends many sentences by saying, "You know what I mean?" but this is a book that you will not be able to put down.

Monroe and Troupe start you off on Alter Street in the tight-knit community of South Philadelphia where it all began for The Pearl, captivating you from the very beginning.

"One thing is certain: I don't forget a lot of things and I'm very vindictive, which some say is a trait of Scorpios," Monroe self-proclaims to start his biography.

Part-time astrology enthusiast and full-time Hall of Famer, Monroe more than makes up for his silence to this point, as his life's story thoroughly satisfies and entertains.

Some hot topics include Earl's tales of sexual promiscuity, his playground team named the "Trotters," overcoming rampant racism, becoming "Black Jesus", a controversial brush with joining the army, chronic knee pain that stemmed from an automobile accident in his rookie year, an unforgettable experience with angel dust, the influence that the movie Super Fly had on him and his relationship with Clyde.  

For a guy whose first basket consisted of a milk crate nailed to the wooden post in a vacant lot outside Vacation Bible School, Monroe has done good, and his biography was worth the wait.