The Tennessee Volunteers had made one NCAA tournament and three NITs before 1974. Bernard King didn't know where Knoxville was. But when then-associated head coach Stu Aberdeen made a trip to Brooklyn, he convinced the New York City star to move to SEC Country. There were two big factors working in Aberdeen's favor.

"Ernie Grunfeld, who played high school ball in New York City, was at Tennessee, and he excelled in his freshman year, and so I thought that this Jewish guy and black guy, we could set the world on fire playing basketball in the South at Tennessee," King remembers. "Well, we were able to do that and we had tremendous chemistry. It was a great place to play and the university was an excellent school. They promised me that I would start and I didn't believe them. I didn't believe that I would start, but then after my first game, when I scored 42 points at 17 years old, I thought that I was going to start from that point forward."

King and Grunfeld formed "The Ernie and Bernie Show," which earned them a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1976. King won three SEC Player of the Year Awards in three seasons, sharing the honor with Grunfeld in their final year together. Tennessee made the NCAA tournament in 1976 and 1977, and King and Grunfeld went seventh and 11th, respectively, in the 1977 NBA Draft.

Ernie Grunfeld, Bernard King

Their unlikely partnership hundreds of miles from the courts of New York City is among the anecdotes in King's new memoir, Game Face, which hit shelves Nov. 7. The book also discusses King's upbringing in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood, his tenure as star of his hometown New York Knicks and his battle with alcohol, among other topics.

But the fame all started in Knoxville with Grunfeld.

"What clicked on the court is that we had tremendous basketball IQ," King says. "And we developed that by playing on the playgrounds of New York City. In terms of the blacktops, we learned how to play the game within the game, and there is a game within the game, and you have to really understand the intricacies of basketball if you expect to excel at the highest level, which we did. And because of that, we formed a tremendous chemistry and when you have chemistry as two elite players, you don't have to look to see where that player is, you know where he is. You can go like this and make that pass over there and know that he's going to catch it, without even looking."

They eventually reunited on the Knicks to share their collegiate dream of wearing orange and blue inside Madison Square Garden. But as King notes, Grunfeld was a role player at that point. Grunfeld is now the general manager for the Washington Wizards. The Knicks and Wizards play for the first time this season on Jan. 3 in Washington. Don't be surprised to see the two former teammates signing a few books around the area that week.

ThePostGame spoke with King on Monday at the NBA Store, A Fanatics Experience, in New York City, where he signed copies of Game Face before heading to the Garden for the Knicks-Cavs game.

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