In case you may not know, Earl Monroe is an ex-NBA guard who played from 1967-1980. Monroe was known for his scoring ability, averaging over 20 points per game in several seasons.
There came a time in his career where he had to choose between Indy and New York City as his next destination. Ordinary enough, right? Well, Earl Monroe’s decision came down to a little more than just money, teammates, coaching, etc. The factor that led him away from Indy was the Ku Klux Klan. Seriously. Via Deadspin:
So I agreed to do that and the next day I flew out to Indianapolis. Bobby “Slick” Leonard, who was the coach out there, met me at the airport, took me to the hotel, and dropped me off. Then someone from the team came back a while later and picked me up and took me to the game. The Pacers had some very good players on their team, like George McGinnis, Roger Brown, Freddie Lewis, and a few others. So I surmised that this was a team I could play on. The only negative thing about the situation was that I didn’t want to play in the ABA, because I thought the competition was better in the NBA. But I thought to myself, If push comes to shove I can do this. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. The most significant thing was that I didn’t like the arena where the Pacers played their games in Indianapolis. It wasn’t like the Baltimore Civic Center or Madison Square Garden. But I did like the team and the fact that they were a winning franchise.
So I went to the game and the Pacers won. Then, after the game, I went back to meet the Pacers’ players in the locker room. I liked them, too. But then, after they had showered and dressed, all the black players reached up over their lockers and starting bringing guns down. I was shocked to see this and asked, “Why do you guys have guns?”
“They got Ku Klux Klan everywhere around here outside Indianapolis and in the city, too,” one of the players said. “So we got guns to protect ourselves.”
That did it, just took me and that situation to another level. That’s when I knew for certain that Indianapolis wasn’t the place for me. Obviously I hadn’t thought about the KKK being such a presence out in Indianapolis, and now that I knew they were, it was a deal breaker. I had already been through that scenario down in Virginia and in North Carolina when I was at Winston-Salem, and I wasn’t about to put myself in that situation again. The next day I thanked everybody. Slick said management was trying to work out a deal with Larry because they wanted to sign me, and I said I would speak to Larry and he would get back to them. Then they took me to the airport and I flew back to Philadelphia and went home.
Earl Monroe should relay this to the players today who complain about not liking a coach or not getting enough playing time. I think that fearing the presence of the KKK takes cake over all of that stuff.
-Mark Evans, Assistant Manager/Editor of Content
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