NBA great Mon­roe shar­ing pearls ofwisdom

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY CARLA PEAY

peo­ple with di­a­betes are two to four times more likely to die of heart dis­ease or stroke.’ That got my at­ten­tion. I started to take bet­ter care of my­self.”

Mon­roe part­nered with Merck & Co. in 2009 and be­came a spokesman for Merck’s for Jour­ney for Con­trol web­site.

“This is an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram. I’m not here to sell pills or any­thing,” said Mon­roe, who does not need in­sulin shots but takes med­i­ca­tion daily to con­trol his di­a­betes and sticks to an ex­er­cise rou­tine.

“This pro­gram ed­u­cates peo­ple on how to or­der the right things when they go out to eat. You have op­tions be­sides what’s on the menu, and you should al­ways ask how some­thing is pre­pared.”

Mon­roe, 67, keeps his weight at around 225 pounds and says his blood pres­sure, blood sugar and choles­terol are all un­der con­trol. But one of his fa­vorite mem­o­ries was the time as a player he let his weight get out of con­trol and reach what he called his “bump­ing weight.”

Mon­roe made the cover of Sports Il­lus­trated in Novem­ber 1968.

“My con­tract was com­ing to an end, and I thought about slip­ping over the [Amer­i­can Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion],” Mon­roe re­called. “I was young. I don’t think I felt ap­pre­ci­ated. I wanted to be traded to the Lak­ers, the 76ers or the Bulls. Wor­ry­ing about my con­tract, I let my weight bal­loon up to 210. When I posed for that picture, I held up my hand to try and hide my stom­ach.”

Mon­roe watches bas­ket­ball spar­ingly these days, care­fully choos­ing how he spends his time.

“I only want to see games that are com­pet­i­tive,” he said.

Mon­roe is a fan of John Wall, but he says the Wiz­ards point guard still has much to learn.

“I think John Wall can run with any­body, but he needs a bet­ter jump shot,” Mon­roe said. “You shouldn’t come into the pros hav­ing to learn how to play. There are a lot of rea­sons to stay in col­lege for more than one year, and ma­tu­rity is one of them. That’s not a knock on Wall, it’s just the way things have changed.

“In this league, we have so many young play­ers now. When I played, teams had a struc­ture. Guys had to earn their way and ad­here to the struc­ture of the team.”

The Wiz­ards re­tired Mon­roe’s No. 10 jer­sey in 2007, 27 years af­ter his re­tire­ment. Dur­ing the cer­e­mony, Mon­roe got a lit­tle choked up when told how many peo­ple played bas­ket­ball as chil­dren and pre­tended to be him. Asked what took them so long to re­tire his num­ber, Mon­roe sim­ply shrugged be­fore break­ing into his fa­mous wide grin and re­call­ing his glory days on the court.

“If I haven’t seen it or done it,” he said with a hint of bit­ter­sweet pride, “it hasn’t been done.”

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