Monday, October 09, 2006

Welcome Back, Glen Grunwald

In case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, Glen Grunwald – the ex-GM of the Toronto Raptors – made his return to the NBA as Isiah Thomas’ right-hand man and SVP of Basketball Operations for the New York Knickerbockers.

We had the good fortune of getting to work with Glen and the Toronto Raptors organization a few years ago. We offered a third-party assessment of the short-listed coaches to succeed Lenny Wilkens. I wish we could have better helped Glen and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (which owns the Raptors), as the eventual replacement coach – Kevin O’Neill – had a fiery and brief stay as Head Coach.

The misfortune of the O’Neill and the Raptors led to Glen leaving the organization, after having been with the franchise since its inception in the mid-90s. On the day of Glen’s leaving the Raptors, you couldn’t have found anyone within the organization or even in the press that would say one bad thing about him as a person. Indeed, it has been a pleasure for me to know him and to have had the chance to work with him, as he is a wonderful person who cared tremendously for those around him in the organization and in the community. I spoke to several former players with the Raptors in my work with them who commented how Glen had gone out of his way to offer them and their families financial support after major injuries, even though his actions never made it to the sports pages.

After leaving the Raptors, Glen had several opportunities to leave Toronto to take some very high-profile jobs in the sporting world outside the NBA. He decided to stay, as his wife and child, plus children from his first marriage were all in the city. He became President and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, serving admirably and being a strong voice that the organization had been previously missing.

Now, he’s back to the spotlight of the NBA – this time on Broadway. He’s back with longtime friend, colleague, and former Indiana teammate Isiah Thomas. Sometimes in business, nice guys finish last. This isn’t the case with Glen. I’m happy to see him back and know he’ll be a great addition to that organization.

Most of the national sports media seems to have already written off the Knicks and Isiah. They have focused on the problems between James Dolan, Isiah, and Larry Brown. I say don’t be so quick to write off the Knicks. Glen had some high points and low points as a GM – as any GM does. But, at the end of the day, he’s the guy that picked Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter – two of today’s top 10 NBA players – with lower first-round draft picks. He’s got a nose for talent, knows his job, and he’s a good person. Plus, I’m sure Glen loves coming into a situation with low expectations, where any upside will be embraced.
Put me down as a Knicks fan for this year and good luck, Glen.

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