NBA All Star Detlef Schrempf on Success, Community, and his cameo in Parks & Recreation
Hey everybody, what's up? Welcome to another episode of The Chase Jarvis Live Show here on CreativeLive. The show, this is where I bring on awesome humans, sit down and share their career arcs or stories with the goal of helping you live your dreams. And today is a doozy of an episode, because we're going all the way to the NBA. My guest is a two-time Olympian, a three-time NBA all-star. His name is Detlef Schrempf and I'm happy to have you here on the show, bud. (upbeat rock music) (applause) We love you!
Thanks Chase, appreciate it.
Thank you so much for being here. So family, what was the show? You were on a show, not Family Ties but--
Oh, Park and Rec?
Park and Rec. (Detlef laughs)
So, I'ma tell you a funny story, and I'm gonna ask you about this. So we got a lot of ground to cover wanna talk about peak performance, Olympics, NBA all-star, transitioning out of that into another career, what it's like to be rich and famous and how you stay humble and hardwork...
ing. We're gonna cover a lot of ground but I want to start off with a funny story which is, you were at my birthday party a couple of weeks ago, you met my partner, Mac. I was texting hey, I gotta get back to Seattle 'cause I got a couple of shows to film tomorrow. He's like, "Who will you film?" And I said, "I'm filming with Detlef." Ad he's like I'm watching Parks and Rec right now as a rerun and you were on the screen. So how does an NBA all-star, retired NBA all-star end up on Parks and Rec?
Well, first I thought they went after me because I had some talent but that was not the case. As you might know, this show plays in Pawnee, Indiana.
And I played in Indiana for almost five years so--
With the Pacers?
Indiana Pacers, yes, correct. And they basically had their first season and they had some difficulties signing on for their next season, so their last episode was a telethon. And one of their writers thought wouldn't it be great to get an athlete in there, Indiana Pacer or a Cold or whatever that does charitable stuff, and then we can kind of promote that. So I think they literally just searched for former pacer that does charitable stuff, found my foundation--
Yeah, and sent us an email to our foundation office and they go, they want you on a TV show, and I go, "For what?" And they literally had made just come in and give them a check. They were doing a telethon, I can't remember what it was for but I would give them a check, "Hey, I'm donating." And so I told 'em I'd do it, but the check would have to be really large and--
Because I'm 6'10 and we need an appropriate--
Amy Poehler would have to say Detlef Schrempf Foundation so maybe we could benefit from it, right? And so, yeah, go to LA to film this and thought of just literally would be presenting a check and they kept writing me into more scenes. So it was really odd because I had first no words, and then I had to learn stuff and then I was doing different stuff. And then the next three years they kept bringing me back for the final episodes. And then I saw, I thought maybe I'd something going on but didn't work out that way.
Well, there's so many things, I think that they thought of you, it's not an accident, this is not just someone with a heartbeat and a foundation. You have a reputation being just a star on so many different qualities. One of the things that I feel like is, I don't know if it's absent but there's this sort of a humility that you brought to the game which I find is, the audience that listens and watches the show is largely creators and entrepreneurs but we try and have top performers on from all disciplines. I think there's a lot of lessons to be learned from that. I'm gonna just circle back one more time on the Parks and Rec. I find it interesting that I know about that and Mac, my partner, we're in our 40s, and Mac's kids are also like, "Wait, you got a picture with Detlef Schrempf?" Because they know that show as well, so you've done a nice job of transcending pop culture for what it's worth. Now, ending there. So German-born, back when it was West Germany.
So what was it like to grow up in that dynamic, and how did you find sport? Was that an outlet for you and just give us a little bit of backstory on your childhood and how you sort of found your way into basketball besides from being naturally a tall human.
Yeah, well that happened late in life, actually late in my years because I was a total late bloomer. I grew up like most German boys that played soccer. As soon as you can walk, you start kicking a ball around. So you join the local, the nearest kinda Football Club because you don't really play it in schools, it's all through clubs. And that's how I grew up. I was always the kid that I thought didn't quite fit in. I was very skinny, late bloomer bleached blonde, got to like 11, 12 years old and there was guys that already have a mustache and--
Yeah, and I'm the skinny kid. By accident actually I fell into basketball, I changed schools because I wanted to get into teaching sports basically. I wanted to pursue that avenue, and the school I was at didn't have it so I changed schools which was a few miles further away. They had the PE teacher who went to UCLA and played basketball with Bill Walton. So he introduced me to basketball in the school, and even though I was not very good, I enjoyed it because it was a different challenge. And then within basically three years I was one of the best players in Germany in my age group. I just, I always tell people, when you're at that level, not just in sports but in business too, you're not normal. (Chase laughs) You're not, because the things you do normal people don't do. So you either look at yourself and don't like yourself or you embrace it, and I totally embraced it. I lived in basketball 24/7. I practiced and played for three different teams, three different age groups. As a 14-year old, I played on a man's league and just, I didn't have a social life, that was it. It worked out.
I think that's fascinating that there is sort of an all in and recognizing that if you have so much passion for something and that it's okay to lean into that passion, and be that, what you're really you're gravitating towards is your tribe, these are your people and you want to meet around basketball and the sport. You can play that you're round and the same is true if you're a photographer or a designer, you want to build a business, I think there's... Culturally I feel like there's resistance. So did you feel like well, that's, you said you're not normal, right? So that's where the word and the concept of resistance comes in, like oh gosh, none of my friends are this into basketball or none of my friends wanna start businesses or go off and be a creator, an entrepreneur. So did you feel like you had to reconcile with that at all or were you confident enough that, was there some... Just talk to me about it. Was there any conflict or was it just natural for you? Well, I think it was a process because I think as a teenager, we all want to be accepted. And I struggled for that for a long time because I was okay at soccer, but I wasn't part of the core group. I was kind of the outsider. School, I was an okay student but I wasn't here or there. Socially, I was getting in trouble with, doing stuff and hanging out and skipping school and things like that but I wasn't part of the core group. I was kinda the hang on. So basketball was the first time where I had success. Where all of a sudden, people are looking at me going, "Wow, he's pretty good." And I think with that, when you're good at something, you are recognized for it and people acknowledge it, you all of a sudden, your confidence level goes up. And that is another discussion because then I can go a little bit over the top where confidence turns into arrogance. And poor athletes have a tendency to go there. So for me that was very important because I was searching for something for a long time and then basketball came along and I'm going, "I'm good." And so it just went from there.
So let's talk about the confidence going into arrogance. I think you did a nice job of like realizing when you're good at something like, whether you're good or you love something, I think in both those situations, I'm gonna put a little few words in your mouth here, just like lean into the thing that you love or that you're good at. These sort of concentric or rather overlapping circles, like what you're talented at, what you love and what you feel like you can make a living and a life doing or at least pursue until something else comes along. But if we change the conversation to what you just alluded to and you go back to my opening point which is, I can't remember how long we've been friends, we'll try and get back to that story in a second. But the humility with which you even approach the story of Parks and Recs, like your humility is obvious that the foundation that you have in your name is an incredible foundation. And I know you as an entrepreneur and a business person now, where is that humility, something that was, born into, bred into, or built or did you learn the hard way and have to realize that you weren't all that? And we're all just like putting our pants on the same way. So what was your personal arc? And then just talk about sort of confidence and arrogance in pro sports or superstars in general.
Yeah, it's complex. Well, I think, first of all, I have to give my parents credit to some degree especially my mom for keeping me in line. I got stepped on more than I stepped on early on so I was never one that was very confident until I succeeded in basketball. And definitely my early years of success, I was the typical athlete because I think we go through stages in life that, you start out as me, myself and I, right? I mean as a teenager, it's all about me. I want more, I want this, I complain about that. And continues and for pro athletes, I think that stage sometimes goes a little longer because we want more and we want, always asking for more playing time, more money, more exposure, more of a contract, more marketing deals. Why am I not featured? It's that, 'cause we were bred to succeed and you kinda gonna go--
And to compete.
Yeah, you wanna compete and I wanna be known for it. And it goes back to I want to be acknowledged.
It's interesting how those things as an adult, they're the same thing as a bonus, is it? Seventh grader, just to be seen.
Yeah, you wanna have that pat on the back. And I think goes for most people that wanna be successful. And I don't know where it changed for me. I remember, I've told the young guys all the time, remember being my first few years and you're sitting in a room and you meet the CEO of a company or some executive or some billionaire, and they'll literally be like, "Yeah Chase, nice to meet you." I'd turn around and had already forgotten your name 'cause I did I didn't care, I had shutters on. It was about myself and the game, it's like whatever. And so I say, guys, you're gonna have opportunities to meet people that if you build relationships that will help you throughout your life. And I don't know where it changed for me. I think once you get married, have kids, other things become more important. But it was a slow process.
Yeah, exactly, exactly. It's not just about the game and yourself. And then we, especially we found out early on that our youngest had some special needs. And so your life changes because you're trying to figure out how to navigate around that and what are the best avenues and services and all that. And then yeah, again and then you kind of get to that point where you retire from basketball and you have to make a decision. Because life changes and people don't understand that never really performed in front of people. You can never duplicate those moments. Say you make a winning shot or you miss a winning shot in front of 20,000 people and millions on TV, it's a playoff game, you might get knocked out or you advance. The emotional rollercoaster and the adrenaline, the high and the low, you just can't duplicate. And so a lot of guys struggle with that.
Yeah, when you leave that, both the figurative and the literal arena, right? You're in the arena and--
And it's over. And so where do you get that? And if you still search for that you run into some issues, especially when you still think of yourself so highly. (Chase laughs) So I don't know, I think I was always surrounded with good friends and good neighbors that helped me along the process, but it was the, "Dude, you just play basketball. "What else do you do?" Okay, you look good on TV, and then 20 years from now, nobody will remember.
That you looked good on TV 20 years ago. I think that... I'm gonna extract some of those things and what I heard is good friends and neighbors and mentors, and I'm just gonna put the word community out there. So how important even as a professional athlete when you're wildly catered to, when you have agents and trainers and all of the, sort of the infrastructure is there to take care of you and make sure you succeed, how important was community as an elite athlete?
Well, all of it is important I think. I miss the trainers. (laughter) When you get older now, I played soccer, I kicked the ball and I think I pulled my quad, I'm going, "What the heck?" Back then, that'd be a week, right? 'Cause you get treatment three times a day, you get a massage, you get ice and you ultrasound and, "Ah, I'm ready to go." Now it's been a month.
You still gimping around.
Yeah, I miss that but such is life. I think I was fortunate, I was fortunate. We live in, as you know, Seattle. We live in a incredible community, that is to me, one it's very giving, very embracing to a certain point and if you pick the right community with the right neighbors, the right families, it's quite amazing and I was fortunate. We had great neighbors, all our kids grew up together. Setting up the barbecue, we go to the club, to the pool, hang out with the kids, we're sitting in bleachers every weekend for sporting events. And sitting with the executives, tech guys, with real estate guys. And you always talk about stuff, and I think that helped at least my process of trying to figure out what I do after basketball.
So let's go back into basketball, like how much of, like it's a team sport versus say snowboarding or, I don't know, there's any other numerous sports we could name that are more individual. But how much of a community was your team? How important was team building, was camaraderie, were like partners in what you were doing as an elite athlete? How important was that, or did you still think of it because of the ego and the requirement to be, mindset is so critical as a professional athlete, talk to me about the balance of those two things. How important was the team, or was it all about the individual and what's the balance there?
Well, I think you still have to do your individual things to get ready for what you need to do as a player, so that means summer programs, you're lifting weights, you're working out, you're doing sprints, you're running stairs, all those things physically and mentally too that you have to get yourself ready for the season. But then once that starts or prior to it when you actually play and practice as a team, I've been on some pretty good teams but also been on some very mediocre teams and it's pretty easy to tell the teams that work together succeed and the teams that have talent but don't succeed.
What are the characteristics of either? Like what does it feel to be on--
One is everyone has to be extremely competitive but you're also willing to compromise. And so you have to have a good mix of stars and role players that are willing to compromise and maybe some stars that are willing to take a step back. If you don't have that, it's just people are gonna be competing against each other to get more points or shoot the ball more or get more attention. And it kinda starts from the top down. If you have good leadership, ownership, general manager, coaches, it filters down to the players. And if you have some veterans that kind of take the lead, it really helps.
Well, let's go back to the individual part of that 'cause I think what you, most people, when you throw that question out and that it's sort of about team, I like that you peppered in there. Like you have almost a responsibility and obligation to take care of yourself, to be mentally strong, to be a team player and you talked about the preparation. How important was preparation? This stuff, the mindset and all the training that you did? And again for the folks at home, this is largely people who are deciding to build businesses and create. And what I try and advocate is that there's, you play a role in the community and if you're a photographer, it's your job to help grow and establish and have relationships and help the photography community, the design community, the entrepreneurship community. But if you wake up every day, you don't take care of yourself, you wake up every day and you're individually not sound and fit, then it's hard to be a good member of the community. Talk to me about, did you feel like it was the same way in pro sports, is it something that we can compare?
Yes, I mean to a certain degree because I think it's just some of it is more physical. Nowadays, I think you can get more services around it. There's a big mental approach, there's actually more planning about the physical aspect too. Back then I just went into the gym every day and try to practice harder than the day before. Now it's pretty much proven that's not the way to go, eventually you're gonna crash and burn out. And there wasn't much mental, I think one thing that really helped me early on in my career was that I actually ran into a kind of life coach who gave me some guidelines and some direction which helped me tremendously. But that was unheard of back then. But I think for most of us and thinking back when I played, not many of us did it but we prepared ourselves whatever way we thought was right and then we came together and started the process as a team. Later on in my years, we had more of a summer workout program together. You can go in early with a team and there'd be a trainer and a strength coach and everyone working with you. Once the NBA grew to that I... but before you were on your own. Now, how do you pass that on, right? How do you give it back? For me it was doing basketball camps through the foundation, not just in the US, but we did some all over the world. Trying to spread the word of hey, this is how we grow together, this is what we give back. Wasn't very well organized as far as thinking on how to start that process. I think we just stumbled into it and grew from there. But yeah, that was a long time ago.
(laughs) If you're listening to the podcast, you're looking at a tan, super fit specimen here and he talks about being retired and you just shrank from 6'10 to 6'9?
Yes, the clothes fit better. (laughs)
Like more stuff I can wear now. Alright, so let's talk a little bit about, I want to, part of what this show is about is about putting on display the habits and the mentality of peak performers. You've played in two Olympics and you've been an NBA all-star three times, in the era of Jordan's prime, when the Sonics were super hyped, yourself and Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, it was a really really cool team to watch. It was a really important, I think interesting trajectory for the NBA at that time. I know less about your Olympic stuff but give me some characteristics. I think you've done a nice job of downplaying it, like there wasn't a lot there for us but it doesn't just happen, you don't just stumble into being a two-time Olympian and three-time all-star. So what are some of the characteristics? Again and I'm sort of modeling for the folks at home. Was it a secret sauce? Was it just hard work? Was it a combination of all these things? Just tell me a little bit of a story, these things don't just happen on accident. And go ahead, I know you're so damn humble, don't be like a, we need to hear the real, the grit.
I mean I was, when I was on my path up, I was not nice. I mean I think to a certain degree you have to have an edge to you, and you got to find what drives you. And I think what drove me was insecurity of one, not fitting in, not making it, not staying there. Every year I thought somebody's gonna come in and take my job. True or not, it's what drove me. So I was not normal. And I've heard that many times, nobody does that or, and I took pride in it because even college they tried to ban me from the gyms because I was playing all over the city, during the basketball season and different times. A day off a game or something and probably not good. It was that, whatever drove me. One, I loved to play and two, I have this insecurity that if I don't put in more work than everybody else, somebody will take my job.
I think that's actually a characteristic of, having sat down with hundreds of people on the show, like the drive and the sort of unwillingness to be comfortable with your position in life. Either out of fear or love like, like that's a really common trait. So I think A, you've validated that. I want to go back to sort of other people telling you that you were weird or that you didn't fit in or that you're different, misunderstood, I'll call on a Bezos quote, because he's just a couple blocks away here and that is, to be successful you have to be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time. And so, can you give us a little more depth or color around when people would tell you that you'd be different, and how did that, you said for a second there, it was a point of pride for you. So talk about that and then in what ways specifically, would you feel like you were different than your peers? Did you see that as a weakness or a strength? Let's talk about that.
I acknowledged it as being different and maybe not fitting in well to a certain degree but it helped me be successful in what I needed to do. And so whether, I always wondered, first when I got drafted in Dallas, the team didn't even have a weight room, just think about that. Yeah, and I came from the University of Washington and well, we had a weight program and I was pretty advanced. So I worked with a strength coach there because I was so skinny coming out of high school that--
We gotta put some meat on these bones.
Yes, so I was in the waiting room all the time. So I get drafted by a team, a professional team that pays you money that didn't have a weight room. So I would go to this North Dallas Athletic Club which was like a mile away, every day after practice and lift weights and then word got around town then. I'm hearing, "Dude, this dude is weird. "Why is he lifting weights? "Basketball players don't need to lift weights." So I heard it from that, I heard it from teammates or even summertime, I'd get a couple of guys to work out with me and a lot of times, I'll wear 'em out because it was just me. It was, oh, another this, another game, another this. And it was always competitive. My wife said, you didn't have much of a light bone in you. It was just very competitive.
Do you think that that's ultimately, was a differentiator for you, a path to success?
Well, I think you gotta find what helps you succeed in whatever you want to accomplish. And I wouldn't offend people, I wasn't mean to 'em, I just was on my own in that path and kind of sometimes people came and but then, they couldn't hang or whatever you want to call it, they would kind of get tired of me. Because I'd go, "No, we're going again tomorrow." "Well, it's Sunday, what else are you gonna do?" So I got better at it later on in life because, but at the time it helped be successful.
So what about, did you find that for every person who's been on CreativeLive before, someone I admire and respect, an artist named James Victori. James says, what made you weird and quirky as a kid is your biggest strength as a grownup. And if you can find a way to lean into that, and it sounds like there's a pattern of acknowledging that you were different and that you needed it at work, at play and needed through, again love of the game or fear of being replaced, you were willing to work really hard. Were there people that you felt like, clearly you were an outlier in your level of your work ethic but were there people who for whom didn't work and were just naturally talented, and what did the the career arc of those people look like? Or behind the scenes 'cause Michael Jordan, did he have that same sort of fervor and desire to train and is that a characteristic, hard work? Or are there just a cross-section of people who are lazy and don't care in the NBA or on your Olympic team for your, in previous Olympics?
Well, I struggled with that earlier when I was younger and guys would come every year and they'd have a lot of talent or guys I played with for years that had a lot of talent but they just got by with what they had. Because I always said, "Man, you never know "how good you can be." And they'd go, "I'm pretty good." And for them it worked. And for others who kind of found their spot and didn't really want more. So I struggled with that almost to the point of, I didn't really respect the guys and later on I go, "Everyone to their own," because he's doing what he's comfortable doing and he's happy where he is. And I was looking, "Man, you could be all-star every year," but you never will be because you're not willing to take that extra step. And then other soon didn't want to take that other step because not everybody wants to take that last shot or play in the last two minutes of a game, or have that responsibility of having to perform every night because now well, you're an all-star, you gotta average this and do this and that. So it took me a while to kind of, not forgiveness, it was more like hey, you are who you are, and you do your thing, I do my thing.
And self-awareness is a very powerful thing and knowing that that was maybe your advantage. I like to say, don't just be better, be different and it sounds, at some point, maybe this is just maturing, you kind of get comfortable with who you are. Was that an active process for you or did you feel like you just settled into who you were?
No, like I said, it's a process. It didn't happen overnight and it took input from a lot of people, friends and neighbors and people keeping you humble and telling you, "Man, that's stupid." My wife did a really good job with that. (laughs)
They have a way.
Yeah, but it was a slow process and I was, German, stubborn as can be. I had to run into the wall a few times to figure it out.
You look good for running into a wall a couple of times. Still got it. Alright, so I wanna small transition. Actually maybe I'll put a pin in that for a second, go back before we transition. I'm on a flight on Tuesday, today is Friday? I was on a flight on Tuesday and the seat back is game six, Seattle versus Chicago in the NBA Finals.
Sad, we lost. (laughter)
You're going to the punchline but so... What it's like to as you said to sort of take game-winning shots or game losing shots, to be at the pinnacle of a game? And I mentioned earlier, sort of you and Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton and playing against Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan and... Is there a nostalgic place that now you sort of, you look back on that, what's it like to play at that level? Because there's a lot of people I think at home that whatever, wherever they are in their career or their pursuit of their passion, I think there's always, is it as good as it looks from where I'm sitting in the bleachers? And I try and say, it's just harder than you think it is. But shape the way that you think about. You were playing in game six of the NBA Finals as an all-star. That's the apex of the game, that's the equivalent of the World Cup.
Oh, totally, it's to me. I mean first of all, if I wasn't as old as I am now--
He's talking like he's 200 years old.
No, but you go through life and you do the check marks, right? It's like basketball, orthopedic surgeons always told me you shouldn't play basketball after 40. I played until a couple of years ago, made a little pickup ball here and there. You do the check mark, can't play anymore, it's not good for the body.
Doesn't work, yeah.
But if I could, I'd play it every day. It's a fantastic sport, I love it. I love how it's different every time you step on a court, how competitive it can be that... Every move down the court is different right. So from that standpoint, I said, I would have been playing basketball anyways. But then you take it where all of a sudden, you get to the status where, you're acknowledged, you become famous to a certain degree and you have a status in the community that you can use for other things, that you should be proud of.
For good or evil.
Yeah, at least people respect you for something, what do you do with it is your call but playing in games like that and going through a season like that, we were good for five good years.
Yeah, that's amazing.
And then we get to the finals and we didn't win it and we're thinking, "Man, we're gonna be back next year "because we're that good." We were that good on the west coast except Chicago is that good on the East Coast. And then within a year the team gets dismantled and we never go back. So it changes that quickly but to play at that level, every day, I mean the emotional rollercoaster. And to me is like, you can only really experience the highs when you also felt the lows. And we had some lows. We lost in the first round, a couple of years before and we had a great season. So there were those things I look back on and I look at practices back where Gary and I always fought. Gary was the typical, he worked hard when he wanted to. But certain things he didn't do and so we were always at each other. Now we talk all the time.
He's still in the community.
I look back at those days that were pretty special and when you're going through it, you're still like that guy that, "Oh man, the food sucks today." "Why is the plane leaving so early?" You complain, it's human nature but it's quite the life.
I promised to switch gears, so we're gonna switch gears to, you talked about sort of being retired. One of the things that I have come to know and I consistently draw a lot of parallels between elite athletes and entrepreneurs or people who are building businesses. Mark Cuban who's been on the show talks about business is harder than sport 'cause it's 24/7. There's no rest, there's no offseason, there's no even like at midnight, your customers in a lot of online businesses or whatever, they're still buying your stuff or not. And so business is the ultimate sport, I think is how he says it. But for all the parallels that I draw, one thing that stands out to me is that there are people who are good with planning for their future, and there are people who not, not so good at it. And I'm curious like, I know you, in a professional capacity now, you take care of people and their portfolio planning, their longevity and you basically create a life for them after and with their money, and like retirement or whatever. Specifically, I know that pro athletes are notoriously horrible at that. You've heard the moniker, starving artists or that artists are really bad with money. And so again I'm drawing this parallel, talk to me about what you see in a post-basketball world or as people, as artists are thinking about like, well, we're notoriously bad with money and they're like, hahaha, laugh that off. But it actually can be a huge advantage if you decide to put in some time and plan for, having insurance for your family or whatever as a creator, and it's not dissimilar to what you're doing now. So talk to me about sort of the horror stories and how it can be.
Well, I think first of all, I think you need to take a step back and put yourself into their position. You're 19, 20 years old. That's literally the average age of an NBA player coming into the league, right?
Have you gone to college? Maybe a year. So the majority of the guys come out early. So they don't really go to college for four years, they don't finish college. And as you know, a lot of them come from difficult situations at home, often single-parent homes. So if I had come out at 20, with limited, two years in college maybe. They'd given me a four-year guaranteed, for first-round pick I think the minimum is like say four years guaranteed, 12 million, I would have gone nuts. I mean saying I would have bought a Ferrari. Why not? So, I mean the maturity level is one thing and again we're talking on the average, we're not talking Kevin Durant or Steph Curry. We're talking the average guy that's coming out, what they're going to do. And just like entertainers, as soon as you have some notoriety and in the news, all of a sudden everybody flocks to you. So you not just have an agent, you're paying for a marketing guy, somebody probably says you gotta start a foundation so you're gonna hire a family member to run a foundation and pay them 100, 200 grand a year. All the cousins are coming out, you have this whole entourage all of a sudden and a lot of guys feel obligated that they have to take care of them. And there's always this feel about well, when when I get the big contract, it's my next contract. And again 50% of those guys will not get that next contract. So they are where they are and they're gonna be pretty much broke after four years, and that's so sad. And they're enough tools out there. The NBA does actually a really good job, the NFL, all the professional leagues educating the guys and bringing services to them. They have to go through it when they're rookies, but after that, it's not mandatory. So it's tough. If the good guys that make it happen, they have good partners. They'll find a good agent, they'll find a... Always say hey, the agent is an agent, you didn't go to school to manage your money. So separate your agent from your money and then hire a registered investment advisor. You look it up on the website, look it up. Make sure they are clean yeah, and they have a fiduciary duty to do what's right for you. If you do that and live somewhat within your means, come up with, I get $4 million, I'm not making $4 million. I might make two million, taking two million home but come up with a number you put away every year and then go from there. But it's a slow process. Guys are getting better, also salaries are getting much bigger. It's unfortunate, a lot of guys I played with are not doing well financially. And then you run into health issues because most guys that age have health issues, they can't pay for it. Had a bunch of guys the last three, four years die that I played with, played against, 55 years old and it's sad.
Wow, I find that, wow, that's just shocking, 50. I guess, again you said you're not normal, you put your body into that much duress for that long, I think there's all kinds of warning signs there. I'm gonna go back to this parallel. Because again the primary audience is people who are are interested in elite performers so that they can take some of the lessons and apply it to their own lives, whether that's creatives or artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, whatever. When folks at home are like, oh, I don't need to plan for my future because, that's for everybody else. And I watched this consistently. Like what I ended up being, as you have achieved a bunch of success as a professional, maybe I did that as a photographer and you look to your left and to your right and there's a lot of folks who are, the way I say is they're not willing to fork over for things that are, these core foundations, things like medical insurance, things like planning for their family, planning retirement and I'm also a big advocate of investing in your own future. If you don't believe in you, who will? So you have to just continue to make bigger bets on your own success. But is there a balance? Like is there a balance where you can both invest in your future, do the things that you need to do? Like presumably having a marketing person and having a good agent and those things cost money, and you have to know to what threshold do you invest in and how much do you sort of put away. Because you put all your money away, then you're not sort of maximizing the opportunity that you have in front of you, and just talk to me, that seems like a spectrum. And whether you're a pro athlete or whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur, how much am I investing in myself and my business and how much am I putting away for a rainy day?
It's a good question. I think that's why you come up with kind of custom approach to every unique situation, right? Because yours is different than mine, from not just your business but your income, your family situation, what are your goals, all those things. You come up and basically build a financial plan looking at that. But to me, you try to take the the what-ifs out, right? And for the athletes is typically the, well, what if I get hurt tomorrow? My contract is up next year and I can never play again. Most guys don't wanna talk about that. It's like, what if I die tomorrow? It's just as bad but it could happen. So if it's not for you but you have a wife and you have kids, why would you not at least try to plan ahead for them? But I think with guys it's just, you get so busy. You have the shutters on, I gotta finish this project, I gotta take this company here. I got to get my new contract. I got to become an all-star and then I'm gonna do it. Before you know it, I've talked to coaches, I've coached for 25 years and they go, I'm thinking about retirement in a couple of years. You go, "Have you ever looked at it before?" "No, what I got? "Where's my money?" And they're smart people so it's--
That's why I'm asking the question, because everyone out there thinks it's not gonna happen to them in this sort of planning and rainy day and I'm wildly, freakishly optimistic like everything's always gonna work out. But the reality is that there's this sort of planning and it really wasn't about sort of maturity or anything, it was like, you know what, to me there is there's always, if you can ever afford to have a long term view, you should. And so what does it look like to put away some chunk of money? Sort of like the pay yourself part of the equation? Pay yourself first.
Well, let me give you an example of my son. My oldest got a pretty good job, not making much money but he's got great benefits. Matching 401K for example, right? So I'm talking, I go, "You should, max out. "They're gonna match what you're putting in there, "and you can really build up that 401K." He goes, "Maybe next year because I think I want to get "this and that." 'Because those 200, 300 bucks a month, I mean for a young person it's a lot of money. I always said the only thing you can really, just (mumbles) control is how much money you spend.
I mean I can have--
Would you live within your means or not.
Yeah, and it's really hard for people in the limelight to control that because of expectations. NBA player can't pull up to practice in a... I'm gonna be really, get somebody mad at me before pulling out a car that's not worthy. But he's got have a decent car. So they feel that pressure. Even though they might only make a million bucks that year. NBA minimum salary is now maybe 800,000 a year, say you're on NBA minimum, he's probably still gonna buy a $200,000 dollar Mercedes just so he can roll. And so that sets you back to you can't put any money away. So there are certain things that you can control. It's again, it's a process, I think you have to walk through it. But once you have family and kids, what's gonna happen to them if something happens to you? Or will they be able to go to school? Can they afford college? All those things.
And that's why sort of... To me it's an important part for, again trying to map, how you're talking about it with pro athletes on to the independent creators, and they're people who are largely watching and listening here. That's a reality that whether it's the fanciest camera or the sexiest gear or a fancy studio, or a big staff like, I think the most successful people that I know in a long arc of success, they have had it, really humbly, like how do I... like there's something almost very admirable about keeping it super lean. And as you said 50 times now in this interview. It's all individual and you need to craft that story for yourself. But just to reiterate, like it's a really important part of like, why do you have to live, why do you have to have the $200,000 Mercedes and I think those, by and large if you look at those, they're not actually have-tos. It's our ego.
We talk a lot about needs, wants and wishes, right? If we all live by our needs, we'll do fairly well, regardless of where you are, income level. But most of us are kinda in the wants and then the few people are in the wishes, even though you don't need that $500 purse, I'm gonna get it because that's what I want even though it's gonna max out my credit card. So at every level, it's all relative. It doesn't have to be a $200,000 Mercedes because that's for somebody that might make a million but it can be that $250 purse that you don't need. So you gotta look at it, what can that 250 do? It's an opportunity cost. 'Cause for most people, spending 250, you got to make 500. You pay taxes and whatever else. So that's a lot of money. So let's talk for just a second about, looking, let's talk about legacy. I'm gonna put a very simple sort of tagline which is like, what people think about you after you have sort of left the limelight, that's your sort of legacy and whether you're Richard Branson or other people who've been on the show, there's usually a talk of legacy. And legacy doesn't have to be, you were wildly rich and famous, it can be like, what are you doing to, what's gonna be on your tombstone? So how important has sort of long-term mission and vision been for you and what are you, what's important for you and your legacy? You've mentioned a few things but try and put a bow on it for me, like how important is legacy to you? And how do you think of it?
Well again, I go through different stages in life. I think early on it was probably about being successful and being recognized as an NBA all-star or star on a basketball court or whatever else. You grow up a little bit. And to me it's more about, one is hopefully I'm raising some children that will be productive in the future, and I'm not talking about rich, I'm talking about being a positive influence in their communities, making a difference. We've tried to do certain things through our foundation over the years but it was more, geared towards not individual, small groups, charities. It's all children charities but it was maybe, it's from the pediatric hospital to maybe a homeless shelter for teenagers, whatever it is, it was a group of kids. And for the next transition in life, I hope that we have an influence on more individuals to have that impact in the future. Maybe it's some future pro athletes or it's student athletes that will have an impact in our community, that they take that path, they learn how to do it, they form the right partnerships. And along the way, it helps some other individuals whatever it is, if it's scholarships, or why not? But I don't want it as broad anymore. Because we have no family, right? We have no family and my family's in Germany. My wife's family is mostly passed away. So it's us and our two boys. So we don't have the 25 people Thanksgiving dinners. And our boys will be there and hopefully, they know that we're good people but other than that, I'm not worried about legacy. I don't need a trophy somewhere. I don't have trophies at my house, I don't have awards, it's just, unfortunately they're in boxes somewhere. It's just not who I am. I want to enjoy life. I think for me it's about relationships. You hopefully build good friendships and you build relationships with people that appreciate who you are and what you do for them and with them. Other than that, the wind will blow over anyways somewhere down the road.
So get a good golf tan, is that what you're talking--
Yeah, I'm at the why-not stage, I told you this. If I can do it, I'm gonna do it. I want to enjoy life and at the same time still have some impact. It's gotten smaller, the world has gotten smaller. We're not spreading out as far as we used to.
I'm gonna ask you just a series of questions, like basically sort of rapid fire. Gonna be about you specifically. At your peak athletic prowess, did you have a routine, a mental routine, a morning routine? What were some of the characteristics at your athletic peak, and then what are they now?
Yeah, like in the morning you always, you never had coffee or you always had a huge protein breakfast or you always meditated. As a peak athlete, did you have some routines? And that was a fine answer.
Not to that degree. Everyone was a little superstitious. So saying in preparation before a game, like you put your left sock, you put your right sock. Little things like that, yes totally. But now I can't even tell you which one it was first but I had to do it the same way.
So there's a repetition and routine.
And the warm-ups, the same stuff. I had to take the same shots every game just to get into that rhythm. But as far as getting up in the morning, because your schedule is so different every day. You wake up in a different hotel room, at a different time. Maybe you want to eat oatmeal but they don't have it, whatever it is. So you have to be flexible and you have to be willing to change and adapt. And I think that has been my whole life, willing to, actually I look forward to change yeah. So for me, the daily routines were always different. Summertime was a little bit more structured because I knew what I wanted to do to train. But back in those days, I didn't really worry that much about food. And now I do, I just ate everything. Now I go, "I can't eat that but it looks so good." (laughter)
So let's now fast-forward to your life now. How important is routine to you? You mentioned you have two kids, one with special needs. You're paying attention to your diet. So what is a routine look like for you now?
I'm a creature of habit, I like to do certain things and I feel much better when I do work out, whenever it is.
Do you work out in the morning? What's a workout look like for you?
Yeah, I'll try to do something in the morning. So I get up and typically I do the same things in the morning. I have coffee, do emails. Set up the day. Once that's set, I go work out and then I go to the office and then go from there.
What time do you wake up?
Are you an early riser? Do you try and get a bunch done before the world is moving?
I'm usually up by 6:00 the latest. I don't sleep that much.
What about sleep? Have you always been a early riser? Is sleep is important to your... How important rather was sleep to your career?
I think it's very important. I was just not, never been a good sleeper. So you get it in spurts. But I'd like to sleep, my wife likes to sleep. She's pretty good.
She's pro? (laughs) Yeah, she's pro, all-star, maybe Olympian.
Any other routines in your life now, and how do you stay active?
I said earlier there are check marks. Not play basketball anymore. I said it's just not worth it. Last time I did, it's about a year and a half ago. I sprained my ankle really bad and there you go, that's three months of not doing anything. So I don't do that. I barely run. I'll do weights, mostly core stuff, not a lot of heavy weights but I just wanna keep core stuff going. And then I do something aerobic. So it could be a treadmill, I like the Stairmaster or spinning bikes. I used to ride road bikes a lot, but then a bad crash was enough, second bad crash. So my wife said, "You only had two lives left, "so maybe you should quit."
So what about, you talk about family routine, is family routine important to you 'cause you talked about always being dynamic and moving, and that's in part how I see my life as well, and I think a lot of creators identify with that. There's things that I like to do every morning. I try and own my morning. But I also travel hundreds of thousands of miles a year. I wake up in a different hotel room two or three days a week. I've flown two and a half times a week for 11 years. You do the math on that, and so you start not wanting to hear the answers. So sort of my routine has been a lack of routine and I try and control a small like an hour of the beginning of my day. What about for you? How do you manage it now with a family? 'Cause a lot of folks, that's like, oh my god, I got the kids, I gotta get them off to school. But there's still time for you in there. How do you make that happen?
I mean, again different stage in life. Our kids are out of the house, right? Our oldest lives in Colorado, our youngest lives in a house with two other special need adults and a caregiver right now and it's loving it, it's pretty independent. So it's a great situation. So that gives us more time to do stuff we might want to do. I love my mornings and I love sitting there with a cup of coffee and figuring stuff out and reading the news and kind of getting ready for the day. That sometimes that's half an hour or that's sometimes that's an hour and a half. But I love that time, it's quiet and I kind of can figure out what the day will bring. And our life has changed so much, because used to be Sunday would be family dinner time and we'd have friends over and all this stuff. And now kids are gone, now we are like, okay, let's play golf and eat at the club or something like that. So again, different stage in life and our family is our friends, we spend a lot of time with different groups and travel a lot.
Traveling, where do you like to go?
Well, (mumbles) in Cabo. I love Cabo.
Occasionally, I'm on a flight with, I'll look over, like, "Oh man, you again?" Tan, you're all tan, you look like you're coming back from Cabo.
Yeah, we don't spend much time there but I hope to spend more time there in the future. I love it, I love different cultures and languages and food and all that so it's it's always fun.
You still keep up with German?
Yeah, I would say my German, I speak a teenage German because I left as a teenager so it hasn't improved much since.
What about your family? Is language an important part of the family heritage?
Yeah, my parents are still around so I saw them a couple of months ago. There's struggling in their 80s but they're doing well relatively.
Have you tried to pass German heritage language, maybe that down to your kids?
My oldest, yeah. We had him a little bit in German school. He hated it when he was younger but he understands a little bit, and he actually played for the junior German national team because he has dual citizenship. So when he was in high school, he went over one summer. One of my buddies coached the junior national team so he stayed there for literally eight weeks and played there and loved it. Had a really good time. So they have dual citizenship, they could go back. My youngest, English is hard enough for him. He has some speech issues. So just, we focus on one language there.
Do what you got. If you had one truth that you'd like, it doesn't have to be the ultimate, like the best truth, the most truth, but is there something that you know in your core to be true? This is the last question, I promised we'd keep it to an hour. I want you to close, So is there a truth--
Wow, that's deep.
Yeah, yeah, philosophical.
Well, I always said people... We were born as takers, right? We take for a long long time and again, teenagers starting on but, poor athletes. A lot of us take it a lot longer. But eventually you gotta get to a point where you gotta give something back. And I feel like, you can't keep track of it, it's really hard to. People say, this is jaw, every time you take some, put it back in or whatever, I don't think you can keep track of it, but if you feel like you're not making a dent, then you're probably not doing enough. So to me, it's like, and there's no end to this. It's not like, okay, I've done enough. You gotta find a way. Whatever it is, whatever you're good at, whoever you can touch, to give something back because that's all you're gonna, it's all you're really here for. Because it's not what kind of car you drive or what kind of house you live in, it's more like what the people, how they interact with you and what they think about you. Unfortunately, not everyone will get there.
Alright, I think if we can do our part to give, I think that's a, better way to end a conversation. I appreciate you and your time. Thank you for coming by.
Thanks for having me.
Man, a lot of wisdom. Congratulations on an amazing arc of a career and for being such a pillar in the community here in Seattle. Appreciate you, bud.
Appreciate it too. Alright, signing off, Mr. Detlef Schrempf, two-time Olympian, three-time NBA all-star. Appreciate having you on the show, bud. See you again hopefully tomorrow. (upbeat rock music)