If there is one name that is synonymous with the world of basketball, it would be Michael Jordan. Jordan's incredible feats of athleticism on the court earned him the title of the GOAT, AKA the Greatest Of All Time. As time has passed, other players have tried to take this title away from Jordan. Players such as Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Allen Iverson all strived to make the title of GOAT their own. That being said, many basketball fans are unaware of the original GOAT. A man with incredible talent who had high expectations to take over the NBA. This man is Earl Manigault.
Earl The GOAT Manigault was raised in Harlem, New York. He started his basketball rampage in the late 1950's with the Benjamin Franklin High School team. This is the time frame where Earl earned the nick name The GOAT. There are many different sources and stories of how he earned this title, either way it stuck with Manigault for his whole career. He most certainly earned that name, by consistently averaging a double-double for his squad. After a couple of seasons, Earl quickly gained recognition from college scouts around the country. Simply put, he was the talk of the town, on top of the world. However, Earl quickly made friends with the wrong people and earned expulsion from his school due to drug abuse and truancy. After a long bureaucratic battle, he eventually was able to transfer to Laurinburg Institute, a private academy.
Earl kept relatively quiet at Laurinburg, as he let his play do his talking for him. He posted even more incredible numbers than he did at Benjamin Franklin, which lead to him earning a shot at playing for the Johnson C. Smith University team. Unfortunately, Manigault's play at the college was short lived. The GOAT dropped out after only a semester due to the lack of focus on his school work and petty issues with the head coach. No, Earl Manigault never earned his legend on a regulated court. He is much more known for his street ball antics.
Earl's home was the Happy Warrior Playground located in Manhattan. His name and his legacy were well known by all the local residents and as he continued to dominate his competition myths about his physical abilities started to appear. Some claimed that he could grab a dollar off of the top of the backboard. Others alleged he could truly double dunk a basketball by slamming the rock through with one hand, gathering it with the other and forcing the ball back in all while still in mid-air without grabbing the rim. Though these tall tales are quite unbelievable, it is well documented that Earl's vertical leaping ability was out of this planet. This, coupled with his incredible scoring ability from outside the paint, granted him respect from some of the games greatest players.
In a true testament to Earl's abilities, one particular NBA legend referenced Manigault in an interview after his last NBA game. This NBA legend is none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. When asked, "Who is the greatest player you have ever played against?" Jabbar replied, "Earl Manigault." All speculation, all myths, all talk, all hearsay and all the hype aside, when a player like Kareem endorses you on his final night in the league that has to mean something.
Sadly, Earl The Goat Manigault's career will always be a tremendous case of "What If?" and will always serve as a testament to what the wrong crowd and drugs can do to one's legacy.