Schrempf: “The United States against the rest of the world would be more serious and competitive”

This season more than a fifth of the players who play in the NBA have been born outside the United States, a figure far removed from the eighties and nineties when pioneers such as Detlef Schrempf paved the way for future generations.

With Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo nominated for MVP, the German welcomes a change in All-Star format for the United States against the rest of the world: "It’s interesting. It would probably be more serious and would be fun to watch. Competitiveness would give you a plus".

Question: Your first All-Star was precisely in Utah, like this year. Do you remember how many Europeans participated?

Answer: The influence of European basketball then had nothing to do with the stage we are in today. It was really just me for a long time. I think that in my three participations in the All-Star I was the only European. At the end of the nineties there were a couple more players. That was a long time ago and it’s good to see that today basketball is a sport with global impact.

Q: What do you feel when you see that in 2023 there are six players from other countries who are starters and that up to nine are participating in the all-star game?

A: This just goes to show how big this sport is, involving everyone. The tremendous talent of international players and how they play in cases like Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic, who master many fundamentals such as dribbling, passing, shooting, reading the game…

It is what we try to teach the little ones: play in a complete way. And they are benchmarks with a very positive impact for all of them.

Q: It could be said that you were a pioneer, then a second generation arrived with the Parkers and Gasols… And today those born outside the United States are already arriving to dominate the competition.

A: Sure. The number continues to grow. What started with players like me many years ago was replaced years later with names like Tony Parker or Boris Diaw, that French connection. Also Pau and Marc Gasol. Not forgetting Andrei Kirilenko.

All this took a while and now there are many players coming from all corners of the planet, many Africans like Hakeem Olajuwon in his day, Latin Americans… It’s fantastic to see how things are changing.

Q: You, in the eighties, came to the NBA through college basketball and the draft. There are non-American players who today have followed that path, even giving up professional contracts in Europe like Domantas Sabonis or Franz Wagner. Do you think this way is better?

A: I think it’s a good system when you come from university because it also entails a good education. You can train a lot more than you would in Europe, where you would be more limited. And they can have contact with their countries of origin in the summers with their national teams.

It is not a wrong path, it went very well for me. I didn’t have the option to choose. It’s also good to play professionally in Europe before coming to the NBA, like Pau did in Barcelona at the age of eighteen, and it went well for him too. It gave me time to grow, to get stronger in my first two years in college. Each case is different.

Q: The NBA and FIBA ​​launch the ‘Basketball without borders’ project every year and bring together talent from the five continents for a few days in the US. What do you think of these initiatives?

A: These types of projects allow an approach to the league of young talents in the world, to be able to be in the orbit of the draft and be chosen. Some are already ready and others need three more years. The first time a project like this was launched it was very complicated because the federations made it difficult to send their players to the US Today it is already a reality and it is something positive.

Q: What is your take on the possibility of All-Star games starting to pit the US against the rest of the players from other countries?

A: It is interesting. The All-Star would probably be more serious and fun to watch. A change can be positive to make the game more competitive. It is already entertaining but competitiveness would give it a plus.

Q: Which team do you think would win that game between the US and the rest of the world?

A: I don’t know, it would be interesting to see it. See how they deal with it. It would be a great game, but it would depend on how they take it. I have no idea. Perhaps the way to play it would be different in one team and another.

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