Tuesday, June 3


In Full Court Pressure, Curt Sampson’s tale of the Karl/Kemp/Payton era Sonics, there’s an interesting anecdote about Detlef Schrempf, the team’s resident perfectionist at the time.

As the story goes, a friend stayed at Schrempf’s house while the German forward was on vacation. Upon returning, Det berated the friend for leaving an oil stain on his otherwise pristine driveway.

It spoke volumes to the way Det prepared for everything and to why he was such a successful player so beloved by his coaches. After all, what coach doesn’t want a player who knows his opponent’s plays better than his teammates know their own?

In many ways, Ray Allen and Detlef Schrempf are branches of the same tree (a well manicured one, presumably). Superb three-point and free-throw shooters who glided smoothly on the court in spite of whatever chaos surrounded them, they also must have made terrible roommates because of their devotion to perfection. Call me crazy, but I would hazard a guess that the majority of 25-year-old athletes are less than enthusiastic about engaging in conversation about the last time they scrubbed the bathroom sink, or why there are three forks resting in the sink, when clearly they should have been put away last night after dinner, and would it kill you to replenish the toilet paper roll once in awhile?

Last year, I came across an article about Ray Allen in the Seattle Times, one of those Sunday Lifestyle puff pieces that are heavier on style than substance. The story is predominantly a Q&A about cooking, wherein the reader learns that: 1) Allen only uses Aunt Jemima pancake mix and 2) baked chicken and rice are always on the game-day menu.

But skip over those facts to the end of the story, to where you are educated about Ray’s only “kitchen disaster.” To wit:

A long time ago, Shannon [his fiancée] moved in and was making banana bread — you know, you make it when bananas are going bad. But I told her, "I don't like banana bread; don't make it." But then we went out, and when we came back after the game, she still had the bread in the oven. Luckily, we caught it at the smoke stage.
Roll that over in your mind for a few minutes. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when someone asks me about my worst kitchen disaster, I’m thinking of the time I used too much lighter fluid and nearly Yul Brennered myself, not about the time I left the banana bread in the oven for an extra three minutes. Am I the only one who thinks it a bit odd that in all of Ray Allen’s life, the worst thing that ever happened to him in the kitchen is some crispy banana bread?

But if you think about it, it’s not surprising at all. If you read Jackie MacMullen’s piece about Allen in the Boston Globe, you’re aware he’s borderline OCD, so perhaps it is less than revealing to find out his obsession to routine extends to the domestic front. Oddly disconcerting, yes, but not surprising.

Ray Allen. Detlef Schrempf. The Felix Ungers of the NBA.

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