Detlef Schrempf and the Seattle SuperSonics of the 90s are still cult. This is a story about how “Det the Threat” succeeded in the best league in the world and found a new home in the US.
He played college basketball for the Washington Huskies from 1981 to 1985 and was drafted into the NBA by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 1985 NBA draft, with the eighth overall pick. He was an All-NBA Third Team member in 1995, a three-time NBA All-Star and the NBA Sixth Man of the Year twice.
Schrempf played in the NBA for sixteen seasons, including stints with the Indiana Pacers, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Portland Trail Blazers. He played for the West German, and later German national team in the 1984 and 1992 Summer Olympics and the 1983 and 1985 EuroBasket.
Schrempf became a regular in NBA rotations after being traded to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for veteran center Herb Williams in February 1989. Playing for the Pacers, he finished second in the NBA with a 47.8 three-point percentage in 1986-87, and eventually worked his way into the starting lineup. In 1991 and 1992, he won consecutive NBA Sixth Man Awards. In the 1992–93 season, he was the only player in the NBA to finish in the top 25 in scoring (19.1 ppg), rebounding (9.5 RPG) and assists (6.0 APG), and was selected to play in the All-Star Game, the first of his three appearances.
Following the 1992–93 NBA season, Schrempf was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics for forward Derrick McKey and guard/forward Gerald Paddio. He ranked second in the NBA in three-point accuracy during the 1994–95 season with a 51.4 three-point field goal percentage. On a Sonics team that also featured Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Sam Perkins, and Hersey Hawkins, Schrempf reached the NBA Finals in 1996, where they lost to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in six games. Schrempf became the first (and one of only two, to date, along with Dirk Nowitzki) German-born NBA player to reach the NBA Finals. While with the Sonics, Schrempf played in the NBA All-Star game in both 1995 and 1997.
Schrempf was released by the Sonics in 1999 and signed the same day by the Portland Trail Blazers, with whom he played until his retirement from professional basketball in 2001, playing in a total of 1,136 regular season games and 114 playoff games.