Detlef Schrempf is a German-American retired professional basketball player, businessman, philanthropist and actor who played under the National Basketball Association for sixteen seasons. Coming to the United States as an exchange student, he played college basketball for the Washington Huskies for three seasons and helped the team win two Pac-10 regular-season titles. He was drafted into the NBA by the Dallas Mavericks and played for clubs like the Indiana Pacers, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Portland Trail Blazers. He won two consecutive 'NBA Sixth Man Awards' playing for the Indiana Pacers. Schrempf, who played in the NBA Finals for the SuperSonics, was the first German-born NBA player to reach the NBA Finals, a feat which was later repeated by Dirk Nowitzki. He has also represented the West German national team in the 1984 Olympics, and the 1983 and 1985 EuroBasket championships, and the German national team in the 1992 Summer Olympics. He was named 'German Player of the Year' in 1992, was selected for the NBA All-Star Game three times, and was named into the 'All-NBA Third Team' once. He is the President of the Detlef Schrempf Foundation, which supports children’s charities in the Pacific Northwest.
Childhood & Early Life
Detlef Schrempf was born on January 21, 1963, in Leverkusen, West Germany, into the family of a hardworking construction worker. He spent his childhood in his native country and played in the youth teams of Bayer Leverkusen.
He came to the United States as an exchange student and attended his senior year at Centralia High School in Centralia, Washington, in 1980-81. Playing for the Tigers, he scored 24 points in their win over the Timberline Blazers of Lacey at the Class AA (now Class 3A) state championship in 1981.
He played college level basketball under head coach Marv Harshman at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he was part of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity while majoring in International Business. He led the Huskies to three postseason appearances, including the Sweet 16 in 1984 and the Pac-10 regular-season titles in 1984 and 1985.
With 1,449 points, he finished college career ranking among all-time top 10 in eight statistical categories and was inducted into the 'Husky Hall of Fame' in 1995. He was included into the All-Pac-10 First Team and The Sporting News All-America Second Team before being named to the UW All-Century Team.
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Detlef Schrempf was selected as the eighth overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1985 NBA draft, but during his stay there, mostly appeared as a reserve behind Mark Aguirre and Sam Perkins. However, during the 1986-87 season, he served as the team’s three-point threat, and appearing in 81 games, finished second in the NBA with a .478 three-point percentage.
In February 1989, he was traded to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for veteran center Herb Williams, following which he became a regular in NBA rotations and flourished as a player. He averaged 16.1 points and 7.9 rebounds during his four seasons with the Pacers and won the 'NBA Sixth Man Award' in two consecutive years in 1991 and 1992.
In 1992-93, he was the only player in the NBA who finished in the top 25 in scoring, rebounds and assists, and was selected to appear in his first National Basketball Association All-Star Game. He ranked second with 19.1 points average and first with 9.5 rebounds within the club, but after the season ended, was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics for forward Derrick McKey and guard/forward Gerald Paddio.
He finished the 1994-95 season with a remarkable 51.4 percentage, which made him second in the league in three-point shooting, and also led the league in offensive rating with 127 points per 100 possessions. He was selected to the All-NBA Third Team and also played in the second All-Star Game of his career.
In 1995-96, he missed 19 games due to a fracture in his left leg, but still ranked third within the team in points-per-game and rebounds-per-game, and contributed in their NBA Finals appearance in 1996. However, the team, which also included Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Sam Perkins, and Hersey Hawkins, lost the finals in six games to the Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan.
He again became the third-leading scorer within the team during the 1996-97 season, with average 16.8 points-per-game, and was second in rebounds-per-game and assist-per-game with 6.5 and 4.4. He made his third appearance in the NBA All-Star Game in 1997.
In 1997-98, he repeated the feat of ranking third in scoring within the team with average 15.8 points-per-game, and second in rebounds-per-game and assist-per-game with 7.1 and 4.4. Even though he played only 50 games for the Sonics in 1998-99, he still ranked second in the team in average 15.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Hours after he was released by the Sonics on August 2, 1999, he was signed by the Portland Trail Blazers, for which team he played for two seasons until his retirement in 2001. Seattle SuperSonics appointed him assistant coach under Bob Hill, his coach during his time with the Indiana Pacers, on January 24, 2006, and he remained in that position in the next season as well.
Detlef Schrempf represented the West Germany national team in the 1984 Olympics, as well as the 1983 and 1985 EuroBaskets. He was also part of the German national team that played in the 1992 Olympics.
Detlef Schrempf was the General Partner at Athlon Ventures from 1999 to 2008 and has been the Director of Business Development at Coldstream Wealth Management since December 2007. He has endorsed various brands and has appeared in commercials for adidas and IBM.
He appeared on two episodes of the German soap opera 'Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten' (1992), made a cameo appearance on the American sitcom 'Married... with Children' (2010) and was featured in the documentary 'Mania' (2008). He played himself in four episodes of the sitcom 'Parks and Recreation' in 2010-11.
Family & Personal Life
Detlef Schrempf first met his future wife Mari, who was a hurdler on the former West German National Team, in 1982, and the two got married soon after. They have two sons: Alex, who plays basketball, and Michael, who is a track and field athlete.
In 1996, he and his wife established the Detlef Schrempf Foundation, a non-profit, charitable organization, which supports other "organizations that provide hope, care and assistance to children and families of the Northwest". He also hosted celebrity golf tournaments and galas from 1993 to 2017, which supported more than 100 children’s charities in the Pacific Northwest.
Passionate about nutrition, he is the founding member of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) in Washington, D.C. He was invited to speak at a Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF) gathering in Miami, Florida in 2014.
The American rock band, 'Band of Horses', used Detlef Schrempf's name as the title of a song from their 2007 album 'Cease to Begin'. While the song doesn't mention him in its lyrics, one of its writers, Ben Bridwell, revealed that he loved the player's name and used it in the song about Seattle, where he played.