Like all kids who have access to a basketball and a hoop, a young Earl Monroe visualized himself in the shoes of the game’s greats, reliving their legendary plays and basking in imaginary glory.
Monroe was different from most of the other kids playing out their fantasies on South Philadelphia playgrounds, however. Instead of emulating Paul Arizin, Tom Gola or other legendary Warriors players, Monroe daydreamed of being part of Philly’s greatest rival, the Celtics. Namely, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman.
“I would say: ‘There’s Russell taking the ball out from underneath, he passes to Cousy, Cousy hook passes down to Sharman, Sharman to the free throw line, jumper!” Monroe said. “That was kind of how we played the game. There were a few of us in Philadelphia who were Celtics fans. The interesting thing, when I played the early Celtics teams when I got into the league, I was always nervous playing Sam Jones, K.C. Jones and so forth.”
Being slightly starstruck never seemed to ...