Wizards Hire Ernie Grunfeld

Grunfeld posed with Wizards chairman Abe Pollin, Washington Sports and Entertainment president Susan O'Malley, and Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan.
Mitchell Layton/NBAE/Getty Images
Grunfeld Press Conference

Washington Sports and Entertainment owner Abe Pollin announced today that Ernie Grunfeld has been hired as President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards. Per policy, terms were not enclosed.

“We are so excited that Ernie will be joining us in the Wizards organization. He has a brilliant basketball mind and will bring so much to our team,” said Pollin. “He is a proven winner and I look forward to great things from him.”

“I am very pleased to be joining the Wizards. This is going to be an exciting challenge and with the caliber of talent on the Wizards’ team, this makes this an ideal situation,” said Grunfeld.

Prior to joining the Wizards, Grunfeld spent the previous four seasons as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks, where the team’s 14 playoff wins during his tenure exceeded the team’s cumulative total in the 12 seasons prior to his arrival. In four seasons with Milwaukee, the Bucks posted a record of 177-151 (.540) and never finished below .500 while making the playoffs three times. Grunfeld was named general manager of the Bucks on August 13, 1999 after 17 seasons with Knicks.

During Grunfeld’s reign as the Knicks top personnel executive, New York advanced to at least the Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs each season. His tenure included 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.

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.

Originally drafted by Milwaukee with the 11th overall selection in the 1977 NBA Draft, Grunfeld played in the NBA for nine seasons. After two seasons in Milwaukee, Grunfeld played for the Kansas City Kings from 1979-1982 before signing with the Knicks as a free agent in 1982. Grunfeld played in New York for four seasons, retiring following the 1985-86 season. In 693 career NBA games, Grunfeld averaged 7.4 points per game.

Following his playing career, Grunfeld served as the Knicks radio analyst for the MSG Network from 1986-1989. 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 marked his front office debut.

Born in Romania, Grunfeld came to New York City in 1964 when his father, Alex and mother, Livia, emigrated from Hungary in 1964.

He enjoyed a stellar collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, where he left as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,249 points. He teamed with Bernard King as Tennessee to form the “Bernie and Ernie Show” and later played with King in New York. Grunfeld was a member of the 1976 Olympic Team that won gold in Montreal.

Grunfeld’s wife Nancy runs her own business and is a children’s clothing designer as well as an interior decorator. The couple has two children, Danny and Rebecca. Danny is a member of the Stanford University Men’s Basketball Team