Washington Wizards Owners Irene and Abe Pollin announced today that the Wizards will retire legendary Baltimore Bullet Earl Monroe’s uniform number 10.
Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and legendary Bullet and current Wizards broadcaster Phil Chenier will be on hand with Monroe for the official press conference on Tuesday, November 20th at 5:30 pm prior to Washington’s home game vs. Philadelphia. Monroe’s number will officially be retired in a special ceremony on the night of Saturday, December 1st when the Wizards host the Toronto Raptors. December 1st will also mark the celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the opening of Verizon Center; which hosted its first NBA game on December 2, 1997.
“This is a great honor,” said Monroe. “I was drafted by the Bullets and it was in Baltimore where I started my professional career. It was four great years with a lot of fond memories. It was a wonderful experience. My four years with the Bullets set the tone for the rest of my career, and now it brings me full circle with my number being retired.”
“We’re extremely proud to announce that we are recognizing legendary Bullet Earl Monroe with our highest honor, the retirement of his uniform number,” said Wizards Chairman Abe Pollin. “Earl thrilled basketball fans around the country for many years, and his time in Baltimore with the Bullets was spectacular. I have always considered Earl a Bullet, as well as a good friend, and I know he holds his time with our franchise in high regard. Honoring Earl Monroe and celebrating the Verizon Center’s 10th anniversary will make December 1st a most memorable evening at Verizon Center.”
Monroe, who was drafted by the Bullets out of Winston-Salem State University with the second overall pick in the first round of the 1967 NBA Draft, was dubbed ‘Earl The Pearl’ during his playing career. As a Baltimore Bullet, he won NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1968 after averaging 24.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in his first professional season.
In four-plus seasons as a Bullet, Monroe averaged 23.7 points per game, and alongside Bullets legends like Wes Unseld, Gus Johnson, Jack Marin and Kevin Loughery, Monroe and the Bullets advanced to the 1970-71 NBA Finals. His then-franchise record of 56 points in a single game (2/13/68 vs. LA Lakers) stood for nearly four decades until Gilbert Arenas edged Monroe with 60 points at Los Angeles on December 17, 2006. In Monroe’s four full seasons in Baltimore (1967-68 through 1970-71), he led the Bullets in points and assists each season.
Monroe was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1990, and was named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996. His uniform #10 will join Wes Unseld’s #41, Elvin Hayes’ #11 and Gus Johnson’s #25 among the franchise’s retired numbers.