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Networking - Detlef Schrempf
Former NBA All-Star — Founder, Detlef Schrempf Foundation, Seattle
By James Wright
May 01, 2014
Detlef Schrempf is, unofficially, the tallest person to ever appear in SeaFood Business. Standing 6-foot-10, Schrempf is a former NBA power forward who laced ‘em up for the Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Seattle Supersonics and Portland Trail Blazers over the course of 16 seasons. Since his playing days ended in 2001, Schrempf has been anything but retired. The Detlef Schrempf Foundation, which he founded while playing in Seattle, supports children’s charities in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, he became partner and director of business development at Coldstream Capital, a wealth management firm in Bellevue, Wash.
Schrempf, 51 and the father of two, was born and raised in what was once known as West Germany but played college basketball at the University of Washington in the early 1980s and has lived in the United States ever since. It wasn’t until later in his pro career that food became more than simply a means to muscle up for his nightly battles on the hardwood. Nutrition has become his passion — he is a founding member of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) in Washington, D.C., and sees greater public awareness of the health benefits linked with seafood consumption as tying in nicely with his charitable endeavors. Schrempf recently spoke at a Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF) gathering in Miami, lending the group some much-needed “presence in the paint.”
How did you get involved with SIRF?
I helped [SNP Executive Director] Linda Cornish establish some relationships in the Northwest market. Bill Dresser’s (president of Sea Port Products Corp.) is one of those companies, and we set up meetings and cocktail get-togethers with local guys. I’ve known Bill for 20 years, so he got me involved. And the yearly [SNP] board meeting this January in Miami was at the same time as the [SIRF] meeting, so he asked me if I was willing to speak at it.
How is your foundation doing?
It’s our 21st year and we’ve raised close to $50 million. If we can help our region in education and health then those people can reach out to the rest of the world. Nutrition is a big part of it. With [SNP], it’s a way for us to get involved on a national scale, doing something that’s very dear to us — promoting a healthy lifestyle and eating a lot of seafood. It’s a good combination.
Has seafood always been a part of your life?
No. In Germany it’s all meat and potatoes. The only fish I was exposed to was fish sticks, much like many of the kids here. And it didn’t really change in college. From an athlete’s perspective, you’re eating a lot to build up and bulk up. I didn’t learn much about nutrition until I became a professional. I started talking to different people and learning from nutritionists, and seafood kept coming up.
Did you develop a passion for seafood when playing in Seattle? What are your favorites?
Yes. It’s available here, and it’s fresh, more so than in the middle of the country. You can go to the grocery store here and get a sushi platter and trust that it’s pretty good. Here it’s all about salmon. I’m a tuna guy; I love sushi. Shellfish, oysters, shrimp — I eat just about everything and in different variations. A tuna sandwich for lunch is light and healthy. I love fresh fish. [SNP] is trying to get people to eat seafood twice a week. I eat it twice a day.
Did your NBA teammates eat much seafood?
No, not when I was playing. Thinking back 12 years or so, it was all about carbs and meat. We all ate a lot of chicken. Our diets were not as healthy as they are nowadays.
Can pro sports players and leagues do more to encourage kids to not only exercise but also to eat properly?
I just saw LeBron James doing a McDonald’s commercial, and Chris Weber doing one for Burger King. If you’re 28 and still putting Big Macs in your diet … the seafood industry is quite a bit behind in marketing dollars and lobbying. It’s tough competing against the big boys. But long term, we can slowly increase the percentage of people who eat seafood. And studies will show how beneficial it is to us as a society.