by Syed Naqvi
September 12th 2018 marked a significant development in the world of Canadian Basketball as Glen Grunwald succeeded Michele O’Keefe as the president and chief executive of Canada Basketball. There can be no doubt that Grunwald has got to big shoes to fill when it comes to replacing O’Keefe, since in the eyes of many observers, she ushered in the golden era of Canadian Basketball Appointed in 2015, O’Keefe spearheaded significant leaps in Women’s Basketball in Canada and under her leadership the Canada Women’s National Basketball Team secured gold in both the Pan American Games and the FIBA America’s Championship in 2015. And in her biography the Canada Basketball website said,
“O’Keefe was integral in securing the 2015 FIBA America’s Women’s Championship…”
However, aside from championships O’Keefe has provided Canada Basketball the stability – which is a requirement for an institution like Canada Basketball – through the development of youth teams, which is substantiated by the victory of the Men’s U19 team at the FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup in 2017. In this regard she said,
“And there’s the non-sexy stuff like the development and the alignment and the relationships and the referees and the coaches … that’s what makes the whole foundation stable and sustainable. And so I’m really proud of strengthening the foundation. So many people say to me ‘Oh, this is the golden moment.’ No, it’s not. The story is just starting.”
And just as O’Keefe so aptly pointed out, the story is indeed just starting. And the author of this newest chapter in the story is none other than Glen Grunwald, and the wealth of experience that Grunwald is bringing with him to this post certainly backs him and provides a solid foundation on which Grunwald can lead Canada Basketball to its golden era indeed.
In a recent interview he was quoted as saying,
“Medals. That’s what our mission statement says – our mission is to win medals on the international stage and that starts this weekend at the World Cup…”
He further noted,
“And then next year with the men’s World Cup and the Olympics in 2020. I’d like to bring medals back from those competitions, that’s our goal and that’s what we’ll be working towards doing.”
Judging from these quotes it certainly seems like Grunwald is ready to hit the ground running. Also, to ensure that his words do not feel like empty promises he is already working behind the scenes to use his connections to build one of the best, if not the best, teams in Canada Basketball history. With regards to his connections he said,
“A lot of it is relationships, my relationships with the NBA and the general managers and the coaches.”
“I have connections throughout the basketball world, particularly in Canada; hopefully I’ll be able to marshall all of those together and work toward common goals. Getting people to pull together in one direction is one of my strengths.”
It is undeniable that the appointment of Grunwald has surely further elevated the mood of all the Canadian basketball fans and whether or not he lives up to his promises, only time will tell.