Ernest Grunfeld (born April 24, 1955) is an American former professional basketball player and former general manager of the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association. In college at the University of Tennessee, he set a new record as the school's all-time leading scorer. He won gold medals with Team USA at the 1975 Pan American Games and the 1976 Summer Olympics. He began his professional career as a player with the Milwaukee Bucks. 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 to 2003, and then became the president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards from 2003 to 2019.
|Born||April 24, 1955|
Satu Mare, Romania
|Listed height||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Listed weight||210 lb (95 kg)|
|High school||Forest Hills (Queens, New York)|
|NBA draft||1977 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11th overall|
|Selected by the Milwaukee Bucks|
|Position||Shooting guard / Small forward|
|1979–1982||Kansas City Kings|
|1982–1986||New York Knicks|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||5,124 (7.4 ppg)|
|Rebounds||1,815 (2.6 rpg)|
|Assists||1,419 (2.0 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Born in Satu Mare, Romania, Grunfeld immigrated with his parents, Alex and Livia, to the United States in 1964 when he was eight years old. He is Jewish, and his parents are Holocaust survivors. He grew up in Forest Hills, in Queens, New York City, where he attended Forest Hills High School.
He attended the University of Tennessee, where he played basketball with future NBA Hall of Famer Bernard King. Nicknamed the "Ernie and Bernie Show", they averaged over 40 points per game. With 2,249 points, he set a new record as the school's all-time leading scorer. The record was broken by Allan Houston in 1993.
Grunfeld was drafted 11th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1977 NBA draft. He played with that team for two years and moved to the Kansas City Kings for the 1979–82 seasons. In 1979 he led the NBA in games played, with 82. In 1981 he had a .535 field goal percentage.
The Knicks signed him as a free agent in 1982, and he played there for four years, where he reunited with Bernard King. He retired following the 1985–86 season. Grunfeld averaged 7.4 points per game in his NBA career. In 1982 he averaged 12.7 points a game, and 21.8 per 40 minutes. In 1986 he was third in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage, with .426. He finished his career with a .477 field goal percentage and a .770 free throw percentage. His playoff shooting percentages were even better.
National team careerEdit
Grunfeld was selected to participate as a member of the American basketball team at the 1973 Maccabiah Games, while he was still attending high school. The US team was defeated by Israel in the final game.
Grunfeld played on the team that won a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games. He also participated in the basketball event at the 1976 Summer Olympics, again winning the gold medal. He became an American citizen that year.
After he retired from the NBA, Grunfeld was the Knicks radio analyst for the MSG Network from 1986–89. He then briefly worked under Stu Jackson as an assistant coach for the Knicks before starting his career in team administration.
Grunfeld was appointed director of administration in the 1990–91 season and was moved to vice-president of player personnel on April 23, 1991. He was then appointed vice president and general manager on July 21, 1993. He became president and general manager on February 23, 1996. During his time with the Knicks, Grunfeld and his family were residents of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.
During his eight-year tenure with the Knicks executive, the team had a record of 397 wins and 227 losses (.636), and a 61–44 playoff record. They won the Atlantic Division three times and reached the NBA finals twice.
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 that 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. He held the position for four seasons, during which the Bucks made the playoffs three times and enjoyed 14 playoff wins. The team won 177 regular season games and lost 151 (.540 average).
He was hired by the Washington Wizards as president of basketball operations in June 2003. During his tenure, the Wizards have held a record of 536–678 (44% win rate from 2003/2004 to 2017–2018), which includes six seasons with fewer than 30 wins alongside eight Eastern Conference playoff appearances. Candace Burker of The Washington Post noted that "Grunfeld ranks as the second-longest tenured general manager in franchise history, trailing only Bob Ferry (1973–1990), who guided the Washington Bullets to the 1978 NBA championship."
As the Wizards' general manager, Grunfeld signed free agent point guard Gilbert Arenas, who went on to have one second team All-NBA and two third team All-NBA seasons. In 2004, Grunfeld traded the number five pick in the 2004 NBA draft along with Jerry Stackhouse for All-Star Antawn Jamison. Grunfeld also traded Kwame Brown for All-Star Caron Butler (who was later traded in a deal for Josh Howard).
Grunfeld drafted Jan Veselý and Chris Singleton in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft. In addition, Shelvin Mack was selected in the second round. All three players were off of the team three seasons later. Vesely and Singleton are currently not in the NBA.
In the 2013 NBA draft, Grunfeld drafted Otto Porter at number three overall as the Wizards jumped five spots in the lottery process. He acquired Glen Rice Jr. in a draft day trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round.
The Wizards traded their first-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft along with Emeka Okafor for Marcin Gortat in a trade with the Phoenix Suns in October 2013. Grunfeld sold the Wizards 2014 2nd-round pick for $2 million to the Lakers, who then drafted Jordan Clarkson.
In July 2014, he signed former NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce to replace Trevor Ariza, Kris Humphries in a sign and trade with the Boston Celtics (trading a 2015 2nd round pick), and DeJuan Blair in free agency.
On December 15, 2018, he was involved in a trading controversy surrounding MarShon Brooks and Dillon Brooks. Later on that same day, he traded Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Phoenix Suns for the return of Trevor Ariza.
On April 2, 2019, he was fired by the Washington Wizards.
Halls of FameEdit
In 1987, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2008, Grunfeld's number 22 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.
Grunfeld's son, Dan, played for Stanford University (2002–2006), the German Basketball Bundesliga team EWE Baskets Oldenburg (2006–2007), 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.
- Ernie Grunfeld
- Kenneth Shouler (September 1, 1996). "Ernie Grunfeld Interview". Cigar Aficionado. Archived from the original on September 22, 2015. Retrieved June 21, 2008.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Un român, preşedinte la Washington!, January 23, 2009, Libertatea, Retrieved February 18, 2017
- Brown, Clifton. "BASKETBALL; Grunfeld Is a Candidate for Bucks' Post", The New York Times, May 21, 1992. Accessed June 18, 2009. "Grunfeld, who is 37 years old and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, still has two years remaining on his Knick contract."
- "Ernie Grunfeld". Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on August 20, 2006. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
- "Wizards Hire Ernie Grunfeld". National Basketball Association. June 30, 2003. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
- Shouler, Kenneth. "To Fix The Knicks: Can Ernie Grunfeld Bring an NBA Championship Back to New York?" Archived August 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Cigar Aficionado, September 1996. Accessed September 9, 2008. "In the off-season, Grunfeld has more time to spend with his wife, Nancy, and their two children, Rebecca and Danny, at their Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, home."
- Buckner, Candace (May 3, 2018). "The Wizards quietly gave Ernie Grunfeld a contract extension last fall. Now he faces a tricky offseason". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- "Ernie Grunfeld relieved of duties as President of the Washington Wizards". NBA.com. April 2, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- "Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame". Tshf.net. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- "PSAL Wingate Hall of Fame Inductees (Listed By Sport)". Psalwingatefund.org. Retrieved January 11, 2011.