Wizards retiring Earl Monroe's No. 10

Earl (The Pearl) Monroe will have his No. 10 retired by the Washington Wizards on Dec. 1.

Earl (The Pearl) Monroe will have his No. 10 retired by the Washington Wizards on Dec. 1.

Monroe, 62, played four stellar seasons for the Baltimore Bullets, later known as the Washington Bullets and, ultimately, the Wizards.

When he engaged in a salary dispute with the Bullets, they dealt him to the New York Knicks for Mike Riordan, Dave Stallworth and cash considerations on Oct. 10, 1971.

"When I went to New York, I had to give up my No. 10," Monroe said. "So finally, getting my No. 10 back has brought me full circle."

Monroe played nine seasons in New York, winning an NBA championship in 1972-73, and having the No. 15 he wore with the Knicks raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden.

"For a long time, even though I was playing in New York, I never felt as though people thought I was a real Knick per se," he said.

Monroe retired in 1980, and earned induction into the Hall of Fame 10 years later — as a Bullet.

"When people think of me, they identify me with the Baltimore Bullets and then the Knicks," he said.

Monroe, drafted second overall by Baltimore in 1967, was considered a basketball virtuoso, a ball handler capable of creating unique moves on the fly.

The four-time all-star averaged 18.8 points, 3.9 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 926 appearances with the Bullets and Knicks over 13 NBA seasons.

"Very few players in this game you can say that they changed the game, they revolutionized the game and that is what he did," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "With his spin move, his freeze move, the herky-jerky move where he froze his opponent and got his jump shot off, that was just what everyone tried to do on the playground."

Monroe will be the fourth player in franchise history to have his jersey number retired, joining Wes Unseld (41), Elvin Hayes (11) and Gus Johnson (25).

With files from the Associated Press