Detlef Schrempf has always been a man on the move.
From the time his family moved to Washington state from his native Germany when he was 17, to college and professional basketball stardom and a new career in the financial and philanthropic worlds, the three-time NBA all-star has never stopped.
As his basketball career was nearing its end, Schrempf, who is now director of business development at Coldstream Capital Management, realized he needed to find something to fill his days.
“I understood I wouldn’t be playing forever,” he said. “I saw some big stars retire and I started to think about what I could do next.”
He also has seen many players make big-time money and still be left with nothing at far too young an age. He expresses understanding for their plight.
“It’s hard to blame them. They are young and have lots of money,” Schrempf said, adding that most players are unprepared to make the right financial decisions.
More players today, he said, might have a better chance to remain in good financial standing.
“I think the money today is so big that I think they have a chance to keep some,” Schrempf said.
Toward the end of his playing days, Schrempf started looking around and didn’t see “a lot of options,” but realized he could find his path through the relationships he had developed over the years. It didn’t hurt that he had earned a degree in international business from the University of Washington.
Armed with that background, Schrempf co-founded Athlon Ventures, a private equity firm, in 2000. Schrempf handled fundraising, deal flow, strategic partnerships and marketing for the fund, which invested in, among other instruments, venture capital and real estate. Athlon is fully invested.
The kind of success Schrempf found at Athlon was a continuation of his on-court triumphs. As a high school senior in Centralia, he led his team to the state championship. During his playing days at the University of Washington, the Huskies won Pac-10 championships in 1984 and 1985. With Schrempf as the team’s leading scorer, the team advanced to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet Sixteen in 1984.
Part of a wave of tall players (he’s 6-foot-9) who could handle a ball and shoot like guards, Schrempf’s skills translated to 16 years in the NBA, mostly with the Indiana Pacers and the Seattle SuperSonics.
Originally selected as the eighth pick in the NBA draft, Schrempf lived up to his promise. He was named the league’s top sixth man in 1991 and 1992 while with the Pacers. He was named to those three All-Star Games and played in one NBA finals series with the SuperSonics in 1996. The Sonics fell to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games. After retiring, Schrempf moved on to Athlon. After the fund was fully invested, it was time for a new challenge, so in 2007 he joined Coldstream, a Bellevue, Wash.-based firm founded in 1996. Coldstream provides financial planning and personalized client services to high-net-worth individuals and families, among other services. It has more than $1.1 billion in assets under management.
Schrempf, 50, is clear about what is behind his success in the financial world.