(This could have been a FanShot, but I figured that a FanPost might get a few more views, and I absolutely loved this article.)
Simply entitled 'The Pearl' and penned by Baltimore-based writer Alejandro Danois, the piece is stuffed full of stories, names, details, and tales of the early NYC playground days of Pearl, up through his time in Orange and his post-playing days.
A few highlights:
On playing with college and pro players as a 12-year-old at the Brownsville Recreation Center:
When I showed up, they would put me down to run on their squad and that was it. And it wasn’t like, ‘Yo! I’m playing with World B. Free and them!’ I was just ballin’, learning and loving the game, getting some valuable experience from people that really played ball.
On the night he showed up late for a game at King Towers playground in Harlem and dropped 55 points:
I got to one game late. People started leaving after the first quarter. I rolled into the park on my motorcycle with my girl on the back. I checked into the game and all of a sudden, everybody started coming back into the park. People were everywhere, hanging from trees, watching from the top of the buildings. It was crazy. I remember Richie Adams dunking on Walter Berry and Walter coming back down and dunking on Richie. It was just phenomenal, man. It was fun playing in those tournaments. Those were the best times.
Then there was the first time he ever dunked on someone (Pearl could dunk?!) at the Soul in the Hole tournament in Brooklyn:
The best players from Brooklyn—Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, East New York—all the older guys played there. That was Brooklyn’s finest. One summer, I got the outlet pass, came down, shook somebody at half-court and then I went down the middle and dunked on somebody. Hard! I couldn’t believe that.
Pearl talking about victimizing countless players with his insane crossover:
It felt good. I just felt like ‘You can’t guard me’ and I would smile. I would be laughing on the inside. People wanted to get up close on me, go for the steal or try to rough me up. So when I made them fall, I was basically telling ‘em, "It ain’t gonna happen!" Sometimes after I floored them, I’d extend my hand and pick them up while still dribbling the ball. This was on the playground with thousands of people watching. That was embarrassing.
Those are just a few highlights. Danois does a fine job providing the context of the time period of the early 80s, and there's lots more from Pearl about all the greats he played with and against throughout his career.
Go check it out: