New York Knicks: 15 greatest floor generals of all-time

(Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Earl Monroe, New York Knicks
1974- Close up of Earl Monroe, basketball player for the New York Knicks. Undated color slide. /

Earl Monroe. 5. player. 27. . Shooting guard. 1971-80

Despite lining up at the shooting guard position more often than not, Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe was one of the best in the game with the ball in his hands.

A member of the Knicks for about nine seasons, Monroe was a scorer first, and a pretty good one at that. He could get to the rim and finish under the toughest of circumstances. It didn’t matter how the defense was set up, he’d find a way to maneuver around them all in order to get a close look at the bucket.

Part of his offensive package was an underrated post-up game, with the ability to back down the opposition and put in tough fadeaway jumpers from the baseline and elbow even with the defense draped all over him.

Monroe’s passing was nothing to write home about, but that was in large part because he played with another elite ball handler in Walt Frazier, who did most of the dishing himself.

Above all else, Monroe was a showman with the ball in his hands. Back then, things like dribbling through traffic and contorting one’s body to finish tough layups were new to everyone. Monroe was one of the first to bring that flair and style to the court.

Many wondered how he’d mesh with Frazier, but credit to Monroe for not trying to assert his dominance. Rather, he came in and did a fantastic job of picking his spots and relinquishing some control. But when it came time to get a bucket, Monroe was always ready. Not many could hang with his unique blend of abilities and creativity.