Funny, the things a player might find in his locker-room stall on the road. Wednesday night in the Wachovia Center, Boston's Ray Allen found a small replica of the retired-number banner the Washington Wizards recently hung up for old-time Baltimore Bullets star Earl Monroe.
It was a gift from Sonny Hill, the 76ers senior adviser and the co-founder of the Charles Baker Pro League that once ruled the summer in North Philly. Monroe starred at John Bartram High and Winston Salem State and honed his game here in the summers.
Hill left the banner because Allen was the centerpiece of the motion picture "He Got Game," in which his father, portrayed by Denzel Washington, made a reference to "Black Jesus."
Allen said the reference wasn't necessarily about Monroe, who had that among his many nicknames, but "people translated it to that."
"Earl is like certain players who are mythical to us, like George Gervin and his finger-roll," said Allen, a basketball history buff. "We didn't get a chance to really see him play. Pistol Pete [the late Pete Maravich], you saw highlights, but you didn't get a chance to see him play. They paved the way for everybody who does what they do today in basketball. A lot of our games come from that.
"[It's good to have] somebody who's older we can talk to about history, like I do for our young guys. Last year, when I was in a young locker room [in Seattle], I had nobody to bounce the ball off." *
- Phil Jasner