Ernie Grunfeld

1980 - 1989 Inductees
Year Honored:
University of Tennessee
Milwaukee Bucks, Kansas City Rockets, New York Knicks


Although it can be hard to remember, before there was a “dream team” filled with NBA stars, U.S. Olympic men’s basketball teams were comprised of talented, hardworking, amateur, collegiate players. Ernie Grunfeld had the honor of being the only University of Tennessee men’s basketball player to ever represent the school in the Olympics. He won a gold medal at the 1976 games in what he described as his greatest thrill as a player. At UT, Grunfeld had a stellar career as half of the famous “Ernie and Bernie Show.” The other half was the great Bernard King. Grunfeld was a four-year All-American at UT, and his 2,249 career points ranked him as all-time number one. Grunfeld, who was born in Romania before moving with his family to New York at the age of eleven, was a first round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1977. In 1980 Grunfeld was traded to Kansas City, where he remained until returning to New York to play for the Knicks in 1982, where he would be reunited with Bernard King. His best NBA season came in 1981-1982 at Kansas City, where he averaged 12.7 points and grabbed 182 rebounds. Grunfeld’s basketball career continued with the Knicks beyond his playing days. As Knicks president and general manager, Grunfeld signed fellow Vol sharpshooter Allan Houston to the team in 1996. Ironically, Houston was one of three players who broke Grunfeld’s UT career points record. Ernie is now the general manager of the Washington Wizards.

Credit 1:
University of Tennessee Athletics Department

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