Canadian men applaud Grunwald hiring ahead of World Cup qualifying game

LAVAL, Que. — Tristan Thompson believes Glen Grunwald can get corporate Canada excited about Canadian basketball.

The Canadian men’s team applauded the appointment of Grunwald as president and CEO of Canada Basketball, saying he brings a wealth of both basketball and business acumen to the program.

“The thing about the national program is you’ve got to find ways to get help from different groups, and I think Glen’s going to challenge the big corporations in Canada to stand behind something,” Thompson said.

“Obviously Hockey Canada does a great job. But at the same time basketball’s on the rise, and it shows in the product with the amount of NBA players we have, so it’s time for our Canadian corporations to be a part of this.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him to step up and be in those offices and in those meetings to challenge and push them.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers forward and the Canadian men’s team hosted Brazil on Thursday in a World Cup qualifying game.

Grunwald was general manager of the Raptors from 1997 to 2004, an eight-year stint that saw the team acquire superstar Vince Carter. He moved on to the New York Knicks beginning in 2006, where he became GM in 2011, a position he held until 2013.

“It’s huge, bringing another basketball mind into this program, that’s what we were talking about building a culture, in order to build something special, you’ve got to have guys who know the game, and have done it at a high level,” Thompson said.

“What Glen has done in Toronto (with the Raptors), with the Knicks, now going over to Memphis, he’s a basketball guy and he’s been around the game for many decades … he’s just as motivated as us to lift the program up.”

Grunwald was most recently the director of athletics and recreation at McMaster University, a position he held for four years. He resigned last month in order to take on a consulting role with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.

“Obviously, he’s got tremendous basketball experience, he’s been in the game his whole life,” said Canadian coach Roy Rana. “It’s exciting. It’s only a positive move for sure.”

It’s a key time for Canadian basketball with the men battling for a World Cup berth, and the women’s team gunning for a medal later this month at the World Cup in Tenerife, Spain. Canada won an historic gold at last summer’s U19 World Cup.

“Yeah, it’s a good time for Canadian basketball for sure, it feels good,” Rana said.

Grunwald’s position is effective Oct. 1.

Grunwald succeeds Michele O’Keefe , who stepped down in June to take a position as associate director, athletics and recreation at Niagara College.

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