WASHINGTON (AP) -It would have been appropriate if the banner had stopped and done a 360-degree spin move - or even a pump fake - as it rose to the rafters. After all, it bore the name Earl ``The Pearl'' Monroe.
The Washington Wizards retired Monroe's No. 10 jersey Saturday night at halftime of their game against the Toronto Raptors. Monroe was drafted in 1967 by the Baltimore Bullets - the Wizards' predecessor - and played for the franchise until 1971.
``You don't know what this day means to me. I can't explain it to you,'' Monroe told the Verizon Center crowd before the banner was raised.
Monroe's jersey is fourth to be retired by the franchise. It took its place next to Wes Unseld's No. 41, Elvin Hayes' No. 11 and Gus Johnson's No. 25.
Monroe was traded to the New York Knicks in 1971 and won a championship in New York, but he opted to go into the Hall of Fame in 1990 in Bullets orange. His No. 15 Knicks jersey was retired in 1986, and he was selected to the NBA's 50th anniversary all-time team in 1996.
``It's unfortunate that a lot of young players today probably don't remember Earl,'' Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said, ``how flamboyant he was of a player and how good he was. It's probably an overdue thing. He's starting to get some of the recognition he deserves.''
Wizards owner Abe Pollin paid tribute to Monroe by saying Monroe's defenders didn't know what he was going to do - because Monroe didn't either.
``Yeah, I did know what I was doing,'' Monroe said, laughing. ``But most of my game was improvisation.''
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