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Dan Grunfeld's upcoming book on his dad, former Bucks player and GM Ernie Grunfeld

Posted at 7:35 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 10:06:09-04

MILWAUKEE — Dan Grunfeld starred at Nicolet High School and later at Stanford. His dad Ernie won a gold medal and became general manager on the 2001 Bucks team that made the Eastern Conference Finals.

What few knew is highlighted in the book, "By the Grace of the Game" - and how Ernie's parents survived the Holocaust, and the incredible American dream they lived.

"It's a history that needs to be told," Grunfeld says. "And it's a painful history. But ultimately my book is a story of hope."

Grunfeld's grandmother lost family in the Holocaust.

"Both of her parents and five of her siblings were killed," Grunfeld says. "And if you go out a little bit to, you know, cousins and aunts, she lost about 70 close family members. My grandfather, so my dad's dad, lost everyone."

It's one of the reasons Grunfeld wrote "By the Grace of the Game," about his Dad's journey.

"I mean he grew up in Transylvania, so on the border of Romania and Hungary," Grunfeld says. "You know, my dad's native language is Hungarian. So he came to New York City from Europe. So he has a very thick New York accent, as you know Lance, and as probably many people in the Milwaukee community know. So my friends and people growing up, they think he's from New York City."

TMJ4's Lance Allan: "I would imagine he thought the Twilight series was a little schlocky?"

"He was Team Edward," Grunfeld said, laughing. "But no. Yeah, my dad's not a Twilight guy, right?"

To basketball success.

"He's the only player in NBA history whose parents survived the Holocaust," Grunfeld says. "My dad grew up under communism. He was an immigrant in America. He lost his brother. You know, he came to the United States, not speaking a word of English and having never touched a basketball. And roughly ten years later, he's standing on the top of the Olympic podium, as a gold medalist, right? So it was a really, kind of deep American dream story."

And the Grunfeld ties to Milwaukee still run deep.

"My mom's dad was one of the original owners of the Bucks," Grunfeld says. "So a fun fact about me was I actually have a Milwaukee Bucks championship ring in my possession. My dad spent 40 years in the NBA. I'm the only one in the family with a championship ring."

Extreme highs and severe lows. But Grunfeld wants to highlight hope.

"It's a true story of perseverance, and of love, tying people together," Grunfeld says.

Ernie isn't a man of many words. But these words with the help of his son are powerful.

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