Detlef Schrempf: Paul Allen Award Recipient

By John Hareas

Detlef and Mari Schrempf
The contributions of Detlef Schrempf arenít limited to 16 NBA seasons, 15,761 points and two NBA Sixth Man-of-the-Year Awards. No, they are much more expansive than that.

In the macro look at the evolution of the game and especially the growing influence of the international players, Schrempfís NBA success played a key role in opening the European doors for other players to chase down their dreams of playing in the NBA.

Schrempf wasnít the first European drafted in the NBA Ė that honor belongs to Dino Meneghin, whom Atlanta drafted in 1970 but never signed a contract -- but the German-born player was one of the first true European NBA pioneers.

Schrempf entered the NBA in 1985, four years before the likes of Drazen Petrovic, Sarunas Marciulionis and Alexander Volkov who arrived straight from Europe. And unlike those players, Schrempf played high school (senior season) and college ball in the United States, no doubt helping smooth out the cultural and basketball transition.

Yet Schrempfís legacy also extends to off the court as well. In the Pacific Northwest where Schrempf calls home, the former NBA All-Star is scoring major points with his foundationís year-round work.

The Detlef Schrempf Foundation, which launched in 1996, is thriving, having raised close to $10 million dollars for various childrenís charities in the Pacific Northwest.

"We didnít really have a plan when we returned to Seattle," said Schrempf, who started the foundation with his wife, Mari, when he was member of the Seattle SuperSonics. "We just knew we wanted to help kids out in the community. The Foundationís really grown over the years and now I canít believe weíre in our 16th year."

Now Schrempf is being recognized for his off-the-court charitable efforts with the prestigious Paul Allen Award for Citizenship at the 77th annual Sports Star of the Year banquet, which recognizes the best athletes, teams and stories from the past year. The event is held Wednesday evening at Seattleís Benaroya Hall.

"Itís an honor for all of the work that the Foundation has accomplished in the community over the years,Ē said Schrempf, who said itís common for other foundations to reach out for advice. ďItís also great recognition for dedicated people such as Chris Levitt, the Foundationís vice president, Nicole Morrison, our executive director and my wife, Mari, who have been there from the beginning. We havenít had any turnover, which is pretty amazing. Everyone is very committed and loves what they do."

While itís not uncommon for foundations to come and go, itís a testament to Schrempf and his team that the Foundation is still going strong 11 years after his retirement. But donít look for Schrempf or the Foundation to rest on its laurels. There are more events to be organized and more money to raise and more goals to be met.

"We have the annual St. Patrickís Dash on March 17," said Schrempf, whose Foundation raised $200,000 to its non-profit partners at last yearís event. "Weíre hoping to surpass that this year."