Starting SG: Earl “The Pearl” Monroe

  • Stats from 1972 to 1980:  
  • 16.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.0 STL 

While his backcourt mate Walt Frazier can boast of having his number hung in the rafters at Madison Square Garden, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe has had his number retired twice, once with New York and another time with the Baltimore Bullets, for whom Monroe played prior to joining the Knicks in 1972, a year before he helped lead the Knicks to their second title.

With as much flamboyance as Frazier, many worried that Monroe and Clyde would not be able to coexist.  Thankfully, Frazier and Monroe proved otherwise, forming one of the best NBA backcourt tandems of all-time, by which they combined to average 37.6 points per game and 9.5 assists per game in their six seasons together, commanding a Red Holzman mantra of play that demanded selflessness and a team-first mentality.

A four-time All-Star (1969, 1971, 1975, 1977), twice with the Knicks, Monroe, the 1968 NBA Rookie of the Year, was named to the 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 beside his running mate Frazier, and was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990.

Silky and smooth on the court, Monroe once bragged of himself, “You know, I watch the games and even now I never see anyone who reminds me of me, the way I played.”