Earl Monroe talks diabetes, food, Knicks

In 1998, NBA Hall of Famer Earl "The Pearl" Monroe wasn't feeling well. He was starving even after dinner and he was sweating all the time, even inside.

So Monroe, who won an NBA championship in 1973 with the New York Knicks, met with his doctor and was told that he had Type 2 diabetes.

Instead of thinking his life was over, he focused on living.

He cut back on fatty foods. He worked out more. And he had a positive attitude through all of it.

"It was a real revelation for me. I realized that I didn't have to go through this process myself," Monroe, 67, said. "Now I'm wanting to help people get the information I wish I had."

These days, Monroe, teaming with Merck, is taking part in the Diabetes Restaurant Month effort to urge restaurants to offer diabetes-friendly menu items.

"When I first started losing weight, people thought something was wrong with me. I've lost about 50 pounds and now down to about 215. I'm glad I did it," Monroe said. "So when I go out and eat these days, I always ask for a doggie bag to make sure to take food home."

Monroe is watching closely the news in New York City as mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to ban the sale of large sodas and sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts to combat rising obesity.

"Everyone is gorging themselves on food and wanting to super-size everything," Monroe said. "Schools, hospitals and everyplace else need to curb those large meals and drinks."

Speaking of New York, Monroe still watches the goings-on of the Knicks and thinks they have the right players to be successful.

"What they need to do is jive together," said Monroe, who played nine years with the Knicks. "Can the guys play together? It's all about chemistry, and I think they can get that with a full training camp. They have the pieces."

Does Monroe miss the game?

"Only when I go to the bank."