I was at Borders a few days back and I was looking around, I happened to find the Wizards '07-'08 Official Team Yearbook (it's more like a magazine/media guide, but you get the idea). It's got most of the things you'd expect to find in a team yearbook: lots of pictures, the schedule, player info, etc. For me, the most interesting part was the profile on Ernie Grunfeld. In the coming months he's going to be under a lot of pressure to get the right players in the draft and make sure that he gets the right players in free agency.
Even though he has the most pressure-filled job in the organization, I'd venture to say that most of us don't really know a lot about him, so here are some facts about the Wizards' President and GM:
- Ernie was born in Romania, but he was representing USA when he won a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics. But don't worry, Romania still did alright at the Olympics that year.
- In the 18 seasons in which Grunfeld has worked in the front office, he's only had one season without a .500 team or better and only two seasons without a playoff berth.
- Before he went into the world of player management, he served as an assistant coach for the Knicks, who at the time were being coached by Stu Jackson. So you can't say that they didn't know each other before this happened.
- Under Grunfeld, two teams made the NBA Finals with the Knicks making it in '94 and '99 (although he was dismissed halfway through the season because the team was underperforming, only to have the Knicks rebound and make the Finals -- d'oh!) with each team having a completely different starting five.
- Back when Ernie Grunfeld was playing at Tennessee (along with Bernard King) he filled the role of the enforcer on the Vols:
Grunfeld took up for Jackson during a Kentucky game in Stokely Athletics Center. Jackson and Wildcat center Mike Phillips got tangled up after a collision.
"When I went to get up, Phillips bit me on the arm,'' Jackson said.
Later, the teams were lined up for free throws. Grunfeld caught Jackson's eye as if to say: Watch this.
"Everybody was tired,'' Jackson said, "and Phillips was really tired and bent over. Ernie bent down next to Phillips and made sure the official wasn't looking and he sucker-punched him up under the chin.''
I don't know about you, but that's the kind of guy I want representing my team during trade negotiations. The man will get what he wants.