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Jewogle - Ernie Grunfeld

Ernie Grunfeld

Ernie Grunfeld

Ernest "Ernie" Grunfeld (born April 24, 1955) is the General Manager of the Washington Wizards. He was also once a professional basketball player. He served as general manager of the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association from 1989 to 1999, and as the Bucks' general manager from 1999–2003, at which time he became the President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards.

Early life

Born in Satu Mare, Romania, Grunfeld immigrated together with his parents, Alex and Livia to the United States in 1964. He grew up in Forest Hills, in Queens, New York City, where he attended Forest Hills High School.

Maccabiah Games

In the summer of 1973, Grunfeld was selected to play on the American team for the Maccabiah Games, the only high school student on the starting five. He led the team in scoring with a 20-point average, but Israel defeated the U.S. in the final 86–80.


Some 200 colleges pursued him. He rejected such major basketball powers as Marquette and Notre Dame, and picked the University of Tennessee because he liked the facilities, the schedule, and the chance it afforded him to become a college star. He starred with fellow New York City high schooler and future NBA star, Bernard King. Together they were dubbed the "Ernie and Bernie Show." Together they averaged over 40 points per game. In his sophomore year he averaged 23.8 points per game; in his junior year, 25.3; and in his senior year, 23.8. He left as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,249 points, a total later surpassed by Allan Houston in 1993.

Pan American Games and Olympics

Grunfeld played for America's gold-medal-winning team in the Pan American Games in the fall of 1975. His biggest moment in sports came in the summer of 1976 when he helped the U.S. team win the gold medal in the Olympic Games at Montreal. In July of that year he obtained American citizenship.

Pro career

Originally drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 11th overall selection in the 1977 NBA draft, Grunfeld played in the NBA for 9 seasons.

After two seasons in Milwaukee, Grunfeld played for the Kansas City Kings from 1979–82. In 1979 he led the NBA in games played, with 82. In 1981 he had a .535 field goal percentage.

He signed with the Knicks as a free agent in 1982. Grunfeld played in New York for four seasons. In 1982 he averaged 12.7 points a game, and 21.8 per 40 minutes.

In 1986 he was 3rd in the NBA in 3-Pt Field Goal percentage, with .426. He retired following the 1985–86 season.

He finished his career with a .477 field goal percentage, and a .770 free throw percentage. His playoff shooting percentages were even better. In 693 career NBA games, Grunfeld averaged 7.4 points per game.


After he retired from the NBA, Grunfeld served as the Knicks radio analyst for the MSG Network from 1986–89.

Front office

Prior to the 1989–90 season, Grunfeld served as an assistant coach for the Knicks under Stu Jackson, before his promotion to director of administration.

Grunfeld was named the Knicks director of administration in 1990–91, and was quickly promoted to vice-president of player personnel on April 23, 1991. After two seasons, he was named vice president and general manager on July 21, 1993. He was promoted to president and general manager of the Knicks on February 23, 1996. During his time with the Knicks, Grunfeld and his family were residents of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.

While Grunfeld was the Knicks top executive, New York advanced to at least the Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs each season. He had five 50-plus win seasons, three Atlantic Division Championships, and two trips to the NBA Finals (in 1994 and 1999). In eight seasons as general manager or vice-president of player personnel, his Knicks teams had a record of 397–227 (.636), and a 61–44 record in the playoffs.

At the time of his removal from his general manager post, during the 1998– 99 season, the team had a 21–21 record and were on the verge of not making the playoffs. They eventually got in with a 27–23 record. He was responsible for bringing every player on the Knicks' current roster to the team except for Patrick Ewing. Before the start of the season, he organized the trade of Charles Oakley to the Toronto Raptors for Marcus Camby, and John Starks to the Golden State Warriors for Latrell Sprewell. Many people blamed him for the Knicks' poor play. However, they came within 3 games of winning the championship, losing to the San Antonio Spurs in 5 games. At first it was said that he was being temporarily relieved of his duties as general manager. When the season ended with the result that came about, it was said that all was forgiven and he would be reinstated.

However, he took the job as the Bucks' general manager on August 13, 1999, after 17 seasons with Knicks. He held the position for four seasons. The team’s 14 playoff wins during his tenure exceeded the team’s cumulative total in the 12 seasons prior to his arrival. The Bucks posted a record of 177–151 (.540), and never finished below .500, while making the playoffs three times.

He was hired as the President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards in June 2003. As Wizards GM, Grunfeld signed free agent point guard Gilbert Arenas, who has gone on to have one 2nd team All-NBA and two 3rd team All-NBA seasons. Grunfeld also traded Kwame Brown for All-Star Caron Butler (who was later traded in a deal for Josh Howard).

Halls of Fame

In 1987 he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

In 1993 Grunfeld, who is Jewish, was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

In 2008 Grunfeld's, number 22 Jersey that he wore while at Tennessee was retired, making him the second Tennessee Volunteer in Men's Basketball to be retired along with his Teammate Bernard King

He was also inducted into the PSAL Wingate Fund Hall of Fame.


Ernie Grunfeld's son, Dan, played for the Stanford University men's basketball team (2002–06), the German basketball bundesleague team EWE Baskets Oldenburg (2006–07), and Gandía BA, a professional basketball team in Spain. His son received Romanian citizenship in order to be eligible for playing for the Romania national basketball team.

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