Tennessee basketball best NBA career No. 7: Ernie Grunfeld
Many NBA fans will know Ernie Grunfeld as a front-office executive, but he was a wing who played at Tennessee back in the mid-70s. Originally from Romania, he grew up in Queens and ended up in Tennessee, putting together four extremely impressive seasons with the Volunteers.
Grunfeld averaged greater than 22 points a game for his entire collegiate career and led the program to consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament in his final two seasons. He was actually named First Team All-SEC in all four seasons and was a Second Team All-American as a senior.
Following that success, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him with the 11th pick of the 1977 NBA Draft. His numbers in the NBA were considerably less impressive, but he still put together some decent figures across the next nine seasons. The highlight was averaging career-highs with 12.7 points and 3.4 assists per game in 1982 with the Kansas City Kings.
After his retirement, Grunfeld worked in various front offices for several decades, with tenures as the general manager of the Knicks, Bucks, and Wizards between 1991 and 2019. On the court, he had more than 5,000 career points in the NBA and was a reliable presence, even if he wasn’t the big superstar like he was in college.