Jan 20

From the Holocaust to the NBA

Author and former Stanford star Dan Grunfeld joined me for a Spotify Greenroom conversation to discuss his new book tracing his family's journey from Holocaust survivors to a life in basketball

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Marc Stein
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A long-planned sitdown with Dan Grunfeld, son of longtime NBA player and executive Ernie Grunfeld, finally materialized on Wednesday night.

Dan and I have been working to arrange this chat since the November release of his tremendously moving book: By The Grace Of The Game. The family memoir explains how Ernie’s parents survived the Holocaust, their unlikely immigration to Queens, Ernie’s initial struggles to adapt to the United States after the death of his beloved older brother and his eventual rise to prominence as well as Dan’s own foray into professional basketball in Europe — and Israel — after growing up with a father who was running the New York Knicks’ front office.

Along the way, Ernie’s parents Alex and Livia became friends with my father’s aunt and uncle. My father Reuven was also a Holocaust survivor who made it from Romania to Israel and then the United States in the 1960s. Joseph Stein was my grandfather’s brother and landed in the Bronx with wife Aggie after they survived their own Holocaust horrors, finding their way to the United States from the same part of the world as the Grunfelds.

As the child of a Holocaust survivor myself and given all the stories and lessons learned that Dan expertly assembled in the book from 96-year-old Livia, whom he still speaks to daily, we had much to discuss.

The recording of our hourlong conversation Wednesday is enclosed here and will remain available for anyone who missed it live. And if you haven’t yet had a chance to read Dan’s incredible work — with a foreword to the book provided by Basketball Hall of Famer Ray Allen — I urge you to check it out here.

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