Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe On Beating Prostate Cancer, Basketball In Baltimore And More

On Sept. 22, Towson University was home to the 2019 Dr. Sanford J. Siegel Prostate Cancer Run/Walk to raise money for new research, free prostate cancer testing and educating men and families about prostate cancer. This year, about $560,000 has been raised as part of the event — 93 percent of the organization’s goal.

One former Baltimore sports great felt his own connection to the race because he has personally felt the effects of the disease.

Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, who played in the NBA for the Baltimore Bullets from 1967-1971, was diagnosed with prostate cancer and went through different radiation treatments. Now “hopefully cancer-free,” Monroe wants to continue to spread awareness of how the disease can be beat.

“It’s something that you never expect to happen to you, and it happened to me a few years ago,” Monroe said on Glenn Clark Radio Sept. 20. “… I know the awareness we need to bring in front of people to let them understand and know that it’s not a death sentence, it’s the fact that you do the right things and you can beat this.”

Monroe, 74, added that prostate cancer not only affects the person going through it, but also those close to someone with the disease — and how a strong support system can make all the difference when receiving treatment.

“Certainly it takes a toll on you, and an important thing to know is that it’s not only the person who has it that it’s taking a toll on but it also takes a toll on the family, friends and things of that nature,” he said. “Getting that support from family and friends really helps you to get through it — and thank goodness I had that and I was able to come through it with flying colors.”

Monroe also touched on the following topics …

– The former shooting guard was asked about what happened in the 1971 NBA Finals, when a loaded Milwaukee Bucks roster swept the Baltimore Bullets in four games. Monroe touched on the subject with humor, saying a slew of injuries didn’t really give his squad a chance to compete in the series.

“You know, when I look at the Finals now, I hope for teams to get swept because I hate to be the only team that really got swept,” Monroe said. “We were kind of hurt back in those days … and I’m not saying that we would’ve won anyway, but I think that the other team were just primed to win with Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], Bobby Dandrige, Oscar Robertson and the rest of that crew. It was a tough team to beat, but we would’ve hopefully made it a little more competitive if we’d all been injury-free.”

– Baltimore has not had an NBA franchise since the Baltimore Bullets moved to Washington D.C., in 1973 and became the Capital Bullets, eventually being renamed the Washington Bullets the following season and rebranded as the Wizards in 1997. Since 1973, Baltimore has not been housed a team in the league — and The Pearl believes the city should be given another shot.

“Baltimore is a great sports town,” Monroe said. “… I think Baltimore should be offered at least a chance to get another franchise there. You’ve got great fans, rabid fans, and I just think that maybe sooner or later that might happen. We’ve just got to keep our fingers crossed.”

– With players like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and James Harden becoming the faces of the NBA, games have seemed to become a long-range shooting contest every night. Monroe understands the progression of the game of basketball has led to teams exploiting the 3-point shot more and more, but he says it “doesn’t seem to be the way [Dr. James] Naismith made this game to be played.”

“… As we look at the game now, these 3-pointers being heaved up all over the place, it doesn’t seem like this is the way basketball was supposed to be played,” he said. “You have a guy that’s able to break the defense down and get 3 feet from the hoop, and the next thing you know, he’s passing it out to the corners or out to the perimeter for a guy to shoot a 3-pointer.”

“I don’t know where [the game] will go from here, but I know that the 3-pointer is a very, very exciting play when it is executed right,” Monroe added. “The only problem is that you’ve got a lot of guys that shoot 3-pointers that are not great shooters, but they’re still shooting them.”

To hear more from Monroe, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Dick Raphael/NBA via Getty Images

Nick Clarkson

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