8 Players the Washington Wizards gave up on too soon

Washington Bullets, Washington Wizards, Chris Webber (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Washington Bullets, Washington Wizards, Chris Webber (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks, Earl Monroe
New York Knicks, Earl Monroe (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

5. Earl Monroe, Shooting Guard

The Bullets took Earl Monroe with the second overall pick in the 1967 NBA Draft. Monroe’s flashy style and ability to make circus shots on the fast break quickly endeared him to the Baltimore faithful, and in four years with the Bullets he would average 23.7 points, win 1968 Rookie of the Year, earn two All-Star selections, and make the All-NBA First Team in 1969. His No. 10 was even retired despite only playing four seasons for the Bullets.

The man who was known as Black Jesus way before Michael Jordan ever game himself the name was playing well and entertaining the city of Baltimore with his unpredictability and street ball-style game. However, Earl the Pearl was looking to be paid fairly for his work and the Bullets front office was not willing to oblige, so after their 1971 NBA Finals loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Monroe requested a trade.

Monroe helps lead Knicks to the 1973 title

He landed with the New York Knicks where he formed the “Rolls-Royce backcourt” with the equally flamboyant Walt Frazier. After taking some time to settle in during that first campaign in the Big Apple, the Pearl became a crucial part of those elite Knicks teams. He earned All-Star selections in 1975 and 1977, and was the second-leading scorer during the Knicks playoff run to the 1973 NBA title.

Monroe averaged 20+ points a game in three straight seasons with the Knicks and eventually had his No. 15 retired by New York as well. Monroe is one of just five NBA players to have their jersey retired by two different franchises. He was also inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame in 1990 and selected to the NBA’s 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary teams.