Mike Strange: 'Bernie and Ernie' shows there's more to the story than baskets

Mike Strange
FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2007 file photo, former Tennessee basketball players Bernard King, right, and Ernie Grundfeld, laugh during a ceremony to retire King's #53 jersey during halftime of the Tennessee-Kentucky game in Knoxville, Tenn.   In an ESPN '30 For 30' documentary airing Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, about the friendship between King and Grunfeld, King publicly discusses for the first time incidents of racism he says he encountered while in college. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

Photo by Wade Payne

FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2007 file photo, former Tennessee basketball players Bernard King, right, and Ernie Grundfeld, laugh during a ceremony to retire King's #53 jersey during halftime of the Tennessee-Kentucky game in Knoxville, Tenn. In an ESPN "30 For 30" documentary airing Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, about the friendship between King and Grunfeld, King publicly discusses for the first time incidents of racism he says he encountered while in college. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

Tennessee basketball grabs a national window Tuesday night when ESPN Films’ popular “30 for 30” documentary series revisits the “Ernie and Bernie Show” of the 1970s.

Subscribe to read the full story

Current Subscribers - Activate Now

Already subscribe to the News Sentinel? Unlimited access to KnoxNews.com on the web, your smartphone, tablet, Knoxville.com and GoVolsXtra.com is included with your subscription. All you need to do is ACTIVATE now!

Activate Now

New Subscribers - Subscribe Now

Want to keep reading?
KnoxNews now offers Premium and Digital Subscriptions. Subscribe now and select how you want to keep up-to-date on local news, reader comments, photos, videos, blogs and more.

Subscribe Now

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 5

Volborn writes:

I was born in 67, so I never saw King play in person. I wish I had though. I became a Vol basketball fanatic starting in 1980.

My favorite player to this day: Dale Ellis! Fluid, smooth, dominant, great defender, one of the best in UT history at moving without the ball. I think he listed 6'7", but he played inside like he as 6'11", and played outside like he was 6'4". Still one of the best scorers I've seen. How good would he have been with a 3 pt line and a shot clock in his day? Same for King. In today's game, you could probably add 10 points and 5 rebounds to both of their bottom lines.

Like they did with King, UT waited too long to honor Dale. Better late than never I guess. GBO

cool writes:

I did see Pistol Pete play live and he had unbelievable skills but Bernard King was the best I ever saw play. Best scorer and best rebounder for his size ever.

Misplaced_Vol_in_KC writes:

I did have the pleasure to see both of these guys play some fantastic games. My first in person of King was in the preseason Big Orange intersquad games around the state. My buddies and I went to Kingsport D-B and saw this skinny long armed kid come out for warm-ups. He looked pretty good, but nothing really special, or so we thought. As we left we flipped on the radio for John Ward and wow. King had scored 51 or 53 points. I just remember we thought he had about 17 or 18. He was so smooth and fluid, that you could miss baskets if not paying attention. Fortunately, I made several games at Stokely over the next 3 years. Memories are precious.

johnlg00 writes:

Being of the geezer generation, I usually watch "NCIS" at that time but tonight I will be tuned to ESPN! During the Bernie & Ernie era, I was living an exciting but penurious existence as a traveling bluegrass musician. Our home base was a drafty but shabbily elegant old house that had a powerful connection to the legendary Carter Family of Southwest Virginia.

We traveled all over the eastern US, though not nearly as much during the winter. We had only a small black-and-white TV that only got one or two mostly hazy channels which in those days hardly ever carried basketball of any kind. So I spent many cold winter nights huddled under my blankets with a crackly old transistor radio listening to the incomparable John Ward detailing the exploits of Bernie & Ernie. To this day, I can hear him say, "Field goal, Bernard KIIING of the Volunteers! What a move, ladies and gentlemen, what a move!"

I only got occasional glimpses of them in UT games and never saw Bernard more than a time or two a year in the pros until he got with the Knicks near the end of his career. He was brilliant right up until his retirement. I had heard only as much as any other casual fan about his off-court difficulties, both in K'ville and as a younger pro.

After his most serious knee injury, it seemed that he finally got his life under control. I seem to recall that he married an educated, cultured woman who seemed to have had a great positive effect on him. I don't know if they are still together, but at one time he credited her with virtually saving his life. He seems to have found some contentment in his life these days. I surely hope so. I do know that he provided much joy to many with his vast skills and never-say-die attitude, especially one lonely, obscure, "starving" musician, huddling under cold blankets but warmed by the exploits of a larger-than-life figure clad in my long-beloved orange, which I could always see glowing in my mind's eye if seldom in my physical vision.

oldschoolvol writes:

From the moment Bernard King hit the court against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on November 30, 1974 and lit them up for 42 points it was showtime at Stokley Athletic Center. I was a student at UT during he and Ernie's career and I did not miss a game of the Ernie and Bernie show. Watching the BasketVols during those three years were a real joy and the highlight of my college experience. I had the opportunity to see them beat KY at UT's last game in Memorial and at their first game in the newly opened Rupp Arena. There is nothing more satisfying than walking out of Rupp Arena screaming "Go Big Orange" at all the Big Blue fans and I am forever grateful to Ernie and Bernard for giving me those memories. I hope the show doesn't take away from the greatness that was Bernard King as a player. Make no mistake, he had his faults which are very well documented. That being said I know for a fact the Vol Nation totally embraced him, Mike Jackson, Reggie Johnson, Johnny Darden and all the other Afro-American players on the team. TN basketball fans back then were totally color blind so I hope the show doesn't infer otherwise. The tragedy of Bernard's career at UT has nothing to do with racism although I deeply regret any run-ins he had with local authorities. The tragedy is that his massive talent did not allow the Vols to reach their full potential as they never got past the first round of the NCAA tournament. We lost in the first round in both 76 and 77 to inferior teams. Having watched UT basketball since the '60's I can safely say that the 77 team was UT's best ever. Bernard and Ernie-thanks for the memories and for all you did for UT.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features