Most know about the time Ernie Grunfeld spent in the New York Knicks front office. And many probably have an idea that Madison Square Garden was Grunfeld’s home court for the final four seasons of his nine year NBA playing career. But did you know that Big Ern was on the floor the night Patrick Ewing made his NBA debut?
After playing his first two seasons in Milwaukee, and his next three with the Kansas City Kings, Grunfeld began his tenure in NYC in ’82-83 with the likes of Bill Cartwright, Bernard King (Grunfeld’s teammate at Tennessee), Paul Westphal, and one of my all-time favorite NBA names, Rory Sparrow. Grunfeld was 10th in minutes per game on a Hubie Brown led, 44-win Knicks team that made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals. But the Philadelphia 76ers, with Moses Malone, Julius Erving, and Mo Cheeks, swept the Knicks, advanced to beat Sidney Moncrief‘s Milwaukee Bucks in the conference finals, and swept the LA Lakers to win the ’83 NBA title.
Grunfeld and the 47-win Knicks fell short in the ’84 playoffs as well. This time going down in seven games to the Boston Celtics led by Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and the Chief Robert Parrish. Just as the 76ers did the previous season, the Celtics subsequently beat the Bucks in the East finals, and won the ’84 NBA championship, taking the Lakers in seven.
Tough times found the Knickerbockers in ’84-85. Cartwright missed the entire season and King only played 55 games. Not even Darrell Walker, in his second season and averaging a career-high 13.5 ppg, could help. A mere 24 wins and a frozen envelope later, Patrick Ewing magically landed in the Big Apple.
Tags: bernard king, bill cartwright, Boston Celtics, charles barkley, darrell walker, dick stockton, Ernie Grunfeld, hubie brown, jerry stackhouse, julius erving, kansas city kings, kevin mchale, knicks, LA Lakers, larry bird, maurice cheeks, Milwaukee Bucks, moses malone, patrick ewing, paul westphal, Philadelphia 76ers, robert parrish, rory sparrow, sedale threatt, sidney moncrief, tommy heinsohn