Tennessee Vols Ernie and Bernie Show

Tennessee Vols Ernie and Bernie Show

September 11, 2019


Oh what a show it was!



Ernie was born in Satu Maare Romania.  When he was eight years old he immigrated with his family to the USA in 1964. He was raised New York City, in Queens.


Bernard King was raised in New York, Brooklyn to be exact.  He was a prep star at Brooklyn's Fort Hamilton High School and moved on to a turbulent career at Tennessee marked by stardom on the court and a number of controversial incidents off of it. He declared himself eligible for the 1977 Draft after his junior year, during which he had scored an average of 25.8 ppg.

Together Ernie and Bernie turned Knoxville on it’s ear, and created a buzz throughout college basketball.   There has never been a college duo quite like Earnie Grunfield, and Bernard King and there probably never will be.


How Tennessee coach Ray Mears actually got these two from the streets of New York to Knoxville will be discussed till the end of time.  Tennessee fans that got to see the Ernie and Bernie show on the court, will never forget the flamboyant New York City kids.  The fact that the SEC was saying Tennessee and basketball in the same sentence had big Orange fans like us on Cloud 9.


How Ernie and Bernie ended up in Knoxville Tennessee at a time when basketball was an after thought still puzzles many.

They averaged over 40 points per game and in all sincerity turned a 5 man game into a 2 man show.



King was the first basketball Vol to have his number retired, his No. 53 banner hoisted to the ceiling in 2007 during a victory over Kentucky.


The “Ernie and Bernie Show had ” Sixty-one wins in three seasons, top-20 rankings in 1976 and 1977, and All-America status for each of the star attractions. It seemed the only blemish on the Ernie & Bernie show in Knoxville was the lack of an NCAA tournament wins. The Vols lost in overtime to Syracuse in the famous pair’s last college game.


A few years ago ESPN did a 30-30 show on the the Ernie and Bernie show.  If you haven’t seen it, it is a absolute must for all Tennessee Vol fans.   Even if you have seen it, you can watch the Ernie and Bernie show special right here:

Many describe Bernard King as the most locked in, focused player to ever step on a basketball court.  He got in the zone and refused to be distracted.  Professional NBA fans and many Tennessee Vols fans will remember the Bernard’s 1984 Christmas Day Massacre. 

I b elieve he was the best of the best in the NBA.  He was a scoring machine. During one stretch he had 50 points in back-to-back road games against the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks and single-handedly crushed  the Detroit Pistons in the 1984 playoffs, averaging 42 points per game.

Bernard is recognized as being the creator of the Eurostep, which is so common in today’s game.  One of the most focused, explosive player to ever play the game.  Very few people in the history of basketball could explode to the rim with such a quick release and feather soft touch.

If not for the fact that Bernard fought drug and alcohol addiction during his time in the NBA, many feel he had the tools to be remembered in the same status of Bird, Magic, and Michael.

He drifted through  four teams in his first six NBA seasons, and finally found  a home and some stability playing back home in New York,  in the largest media market during the peak of his basketball career for the NY Knicks. Bernard King was very private person and kept to himself.  All fans really had to know him buy was his intense on the court focus.

Ernie Grunfield had a productive NBA career.  He was drafted 11th in the 1977 NBA draft.  His running mate Bernard was 7th.   No SEC player was drafted before them and not until Kentucky’s Larry Johnson was the drafted 24th was another player selected.

The Milwaukee Bucks drafted Grunfield, and he played with the for two years before moving on to the Kansas City Kings.  He played for the Kings from the 79 -82 seasons. In 1979 he played in more games than anyone in the NBA, 82. In 1981 he boasted a remarkable .535 field goal percentage.

The NY Knicks signed Ernie as a free agent in 1982, bringing back home to New York where he reunited with his Tennessee team mate Bernard King.  He retired following the 1985 -86 season.

Ernie Grunfield average 7.4 points per game during his NBA career.  In 1986 he had the third highest 3-point goal percentage  with .426.  He ended his career with a .770 free throw goal percentage.


However Ernie Grunfields, NBA career didn’t end in 1986.  Earnie was appointed to director of administration in 1990-91 and then to President and general manager in 1996. During his time with the Knicks his executive team had a record of 397 wins and 227 losses. They won the Atlantic Division two times and reached the NBA finals twice.

In 1999 he took the job as the Bucks general manager.  He held the position for four seasons, during which the Bucks made the playoffs three times with fourteen playoff wins.   The team won 177 regular season games and lost 151.



Bernard is Tennessee's only men's basketball representative in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  He was inducted in 2013.

He was the first basketball player to start as a Vol and make it to the NBA. Bernard was the SEC freshman of the year.  He earned first-team All-American in each of his three seasons at Tennessee, including consensus All-America honors following his junior campaign in 1977.

One of five players selected to the 25-Year All-SEC Team by the Lakeland Ledger in 1986.  He teamed with Tennessee Vols teamate Ernie Grunfeld to comprise one of the most powerful one-two scoring punches in college basketball history.

The "Ernie and Bernie Show" ... Along with Grunfeld, graced the cover of Sports Illustrated on Feb. 9, 1976


The Ernie and Bernie show drew standing-room only crowds everywhere they played.


 Bernard finished his career after his Junior year. He  ranks second all-time in Tennessee  history with 1,962 career points and 1,004 rebounds.


Bernard was the first Tennessee basketball player to have his number retired, as his No. 53 was hung from the Thompson-Boling Arena rafters during a halftime ceremony Feb. 13, 2007. 






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