Where are They Now? Detlef Schrempf
By Conrad Brunner
Ahh, the laid-back days of retirement. Time to stretch out in the hammock, soak up some sun, maybe take up gardening or fly-fishing to fill the time in between rounds of golf.
Or, if you're Detlef Schrempf, you pursue such leisure time activities as bicycle road racing around Mt. Rainier and snowboarding, all while running an investment firm as well as a charitable foundation.
"I just can't sit around," Schrempf said. "You get fat doing that."
Fans who remember "the Grand Teuton" from his five seasons with the Pacers (1988-93) know of his pathological aversion to flab. Schrempf could matchup biceps and body-fat percentages with any player in the NBA but, more importantly, blossomed into one of its most versatile forwards after being acquired from Dallas in a trade for Herb Williams. In 354 games with the Pacers, Schrempf averaged 17.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists while posting percentages of .511 from the field and .813 from the line. He won the NBA Sixth Man Award in 1991 and '92.
"It was fun," Schrempf said of his time here. "The Pacers were one of my favorite teams to be on. They were all good guys and we all got along. It was never that way in Seattle or Portland. Plus, Indianapolis is a really good city, especially if you have a family."
What the Pacers did not do in Schrempf's tenure was win a playoff series, though they came agonizingly close to that long-awaited breakthrough in 1991, pushing Boston to five games before losing the final game in Boston Garden by three points. When Larry Brown took over as head coach in 1993, he wanted to establish more of a defensive mindset, so Schrempf was dealt to Seattle for defensive specialist Derrick McKey.
Both players and teams thrived after the deal. McKey helped the Pacers reach the Eastern Conference finals five times in seven years, and the NBA Finals in 2000. Schrempf reached the NBA Finals with the Sonics in 1996, falling in six games to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. He was voted third-team all-NBA after the 1995 season. The move was also homecoming for Schrempf, a native of Leverkusen, Germany, who attended high school and college in the state of Washington.
"At the time (of the trade) I was sad because we had a good team that was going in the right direction," Schrempf said. "But in Seattle, we really had a run at it. There are a lot of things you can look back at, but I'm pretty happy with the way things have turned out."
Signed by Portland as a free agent prior to the 1999-00 season, Schrempf was plagued by a lingering neck injury that led to his decision to retire. But he was under contract to the Blazers for another season and, when they asked him to return to active duty last season, he did so for 26 games.
"That last year when I had to go back and play in Portland, I wasn't really excited about that," he said. "I decided to retire the year before but they didn't want me to and I was still under contract so I ended up going back for half the season. It just wasn't a good situation."
In all, he spent 16 seasons in the league, totaling 15,761 points (13.9), 7,023 rebounds (6.2) and 3,833 assists (3.4).
Now settled into his new routine at age 39 - "I'm an old man now," he said with a laugh - Schrempf is too busy to miss the game.
"I want to do something, accomplish something (in his new life)," Schrempf said. "And I'm able to stay close enough to sports without being too close."
His investment company, Athlon Ventures, numbers 35 professional athletes, primarily golfers, among its clients. His foundation hosts several events each year, including a celebrity golf tournament.
He also was one of several former NBA players to stage a scrimmage for an IBM commercial - the name on the back of his jersey is Linux, one of the company's prized software packages - along with Bill Laimbeer, Xavier McDaniel, Muggsy Bogues and George Gervin.
"We made a pretty good team," he said, "12 years ago."
As if that wasn't enough to keep him busy, he and wife Mary - a former hurdler on the West German Olympic team - are active with their two sons, ages 11 and 9, who both are playing organized basketball.
"I'm pretty content about not playing anymore," he said. "I probably could still play another year or so physically I just don't want to go through that again. I'm pretty happy where I am. I'm enjoying the business side of it and I'm enjoying some things I haven't been able to do. The kids are always busy so we've been able to do some things there.
"Life is good."