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Shawn Kemp
Nickname The Reign Man, The Manchild
Position Power Forward
Height 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Weight 280 lb (127 kg)
Born November 26, 1969 (1969-11-26) (age 40)
Elkhart, Indiana
Nationality American
High school Concord
College University of Kentucky/Trinity Valley Community College
Draft 17th overall, 1989
Seattle SuperSonics
Pro career 1989–2003
Former teams Seattle SuperSonics (1989–1997)
Cleveland Cavaliers (1997–2000)
Portland Trail Blazers (2000–2002)
Orlando Magic (2002–2003)
Awards NBA All-Star
All-NBA Second Team
Medal record
Competitor for  United States
World Championships
Gold 1994 Canada National team

Shawn T. Kemp (born November 26, 1969, in Elkhart, Indiana) is a former professional basketball player, who played in the National Basketball Association.


Early years

Kemp attended Concord High School in Elkhart, Indiana. He was considered to be one of the top four or five players nationally his senior year, and led his team to the state championship finals. Kemp finished third for the state's coveted Mr. Basketball award (behind Woody Austin and Chandler Thompson). However, during the post-season after his senior year, Kemp, more so than any other of his fellow top recruits, certified his reputation. He scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic, and scored 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the McDonald's Game.[citation needed] During his senior year, Kemp signed a national letter-of-intent to play basketball at the University of Kentucky. However, he left the team in November 1988 after he was accused of pawning two gold chains that had been reported stolen from his teammate Sean Sutton, the son of then Kentucky head coach Eddie Sutton. Sean Sutton did not press charges, but Kemp transferred to Trinity Valley Community College in Texas.[1] After a semester at TVCC, where he did not play, 19-year-old Shawn Kemp declared himself eligible for the 1989 NBA Draft.

Basketball career

Seattle SuperSonics

The Seattle SuperSonics drafted Kemp in the first round of the 1989 NBA Draft and he quickly became a force to be reckoned with. Kemp was one of the NBA's premier high flyers with outstanding leaping abilities. At the time, he was the youngest player in the NBA. Half-court lob passes from Gary Payton to Kemp became a regular sight. Together with Payton, Detlef Schrempf, Sam Perkins and Hersey Hawkins, they became a highly successful squad. After Kemp's second NBA season, he picked up the nickname "Reign Man" after Sonics announcer Kevin Calabro saw a poster with the name and found it fitting to add to his radio broadcasts. Conflicting accounts attribute this to his love of the Seattle weather as a rookie, as well as his appreciation of the Dustin Hoffman movie Rain Man.[2]

He played for the US national team in the 1994 FIBA World Championship in Toronto, winning the gold medal.[3]

Kemp's career peaked in 1995-96, when he led the Sonics to a franchise-record 64 wins and their first NBA Finals appearance since 1979. They faced Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, who were coming off an NBA record 72 wins. The Sonics managed to push the heavily-favored Bulls to six games before losing.

Kemp, having signed a long-term contract before the rapid increase in NBA salaries, was earning substantially less than most players of his repute. He was outraged when Sonics management denied Kemp's request for a raise, while offering Jim McIlvaine, a five-year, $35 million contract. Kemp threatened to refuse to play in the upcoming season, and the resulting tension with management eventually led to a blockbuster three-team trade following the 1996-1997 season that sent Kemp to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks forward Vin Baker to the Sonics, and Terrell Brandon and Tyrone Hill from the Cavaliers to the Bucks.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Kemp played three seasons with the Cavaliers, where he battled weight problems and often appeared to lack the drive that made him such a force in Seattle. Despite this, he posted career-high numbers for points per game.

During the lockout shortened 1998-1999 NBA season, Kemp reportedly showed up to training camp weighing 275 pounds. Though unable to shed the weight, Kemp still managed to average 20.5 points and 9.2 rebounds.

Portland Trail Blazers

He was then traded to the Portland Trail Blazers after the 1999-2000 season. The trade reunited Kemp with Bob Whitsitt, who had originally brought Kemp to Seattle. However, Kemp's play began to decline significantly. The last few years of Kemp's professional basketball career were riddled with problems stemming from his weight, as well as cocaine and alcohol abuse. His first season in Portland ended early when he entered drug rehabilitation.

After two unproductive seasons, the Blazers waived him.

Orlando Magic

He was signed as a free agent for the Orlando Magic, and helped the Magic reach the playoffs despite the loss of starting small forward Grant Hill. In their first round series, the Magic took an early three games to one lead before losing to the Detroit Pistons in seven games. Following the 2002-03 season, Shawn Kemp was replaced by free agent forward Juwan Howard.

NBA comeback attempts

In April of the 2005-06 NBA season, Kemp's NBA comeback chances looked promising[4]. The eventual Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks considered adding Kemp to their roster in time for the NBA playoffs. Mavs' coach, and former Sonic teammate, Avery Johnson scheduled a personal workout to take place in Houston, where Kemp trained for several months. However, Kemp failed to appear because of undisclosed reasons. The two parties tried to re-schedule a workout but the NBA refused to grant Dallas an injury exception (for a 16th player). Ultimately Kemp did not get a second chance to join the Mavs that season.[5]

In June 2006, 3 months after a drug arrest, the Denver Post reported that Kemp had slimmed down to the playing weight of his all-star days and was determined to join an NBA team, possibly the Denver Nuggets, and finish his career "the right way."[6] The Nuggets ultimately turned their attention away from Kemp, signing power forward Reggie Evans. Kemp drew some interest from the Chicago Bulls in September 2006, but missed his scheduled workout to visit an ailing relative instead.[7]

During halftime of a November 5, 2006 Sonics game, Kemp was announced as one of the 16 members of the Seattle SuperSonics' 40-year anniversary team. After having the longest ovation of all the players, Kemp said after the celebration that he would play with a team in Rome and was still considering a comeback to the NBA. Kemp, however, did not secure a position on an NBA roster during the 2006-07 season.


On August 18, 2008, Kemp signed a one-year contract with Premiata Montegranaro of Italian League. Despite being almost 39, he was said to be in good shape. The Premiata deal came about by the good relationship between Kemp and Roberto Carmenati, the new Team Director of Montegranaro.[8] Kemp reported to the team, played in three preseason games and then returned to Houston to assess his home for damage from Hurricane Ike. Kemp and Premiata Montegranaro decided to part their ways, and the contract was rescinded.[9]

Personal life

As of 1998, Kemp had fathered at least seven children.[10] This number is alleged to be even higher, resulting in Kemp being an easy target for commentators' jokes (including a story arc in the syndicated comic strip Tank McNamara the week of September 10, 2007). A similar reference was made during the episode titled "*" of the TV series Law & Order.

His oldest son, Shawn Kemp Jr., committed to play basketball for Auburn University on November 11, 2009. Shawn Jr, a graduate of Cherokee High School in Canton, Georgia is a 6'9" 220 pound Center. He was named as an alternate in the 2009 McDonald's High School All-American Classic. Shawn Jr was heavily recruited by University of Kentucky, University of Florida, Alabama, Indiana, and Arkansas.

He appeared on the 2009 season premiere of Pros vs. Joes.

Legal problems

On April 4, 2005 Shawn Kemp was arrested in Shoreline, Washington for an investigation of drug possession. Kemp along with another man were found with cocaine, about 60 grams of marijuana and a semiautomatic pistol, according to the King County Sheriff's Office. On April 29 Kemp was formally charged with drug possession and pleaded guilty.[11] Kemp was again arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Houston, Texas on July 21, 2006.[12]

NBA statistics

'89-90 Seattle 81 1 13.8 .479 .736 0.9 4.3 0.3 6.5
'90-91 Seattle 81 66 30.1 .508 .661 1.5 8.4 1.8 15.0
'91-92 Seattle 64 23 28.3 .504 .748 1.9 10.4 1.3 15.5
'92-93 Seattle 78 68 33.1 .492 .712 1.9 10.7 2.0 17.8
'93-94 Seattle 79 73 32.9 .538 .741 2.1 10.8 2.6 18.1
'94-95 Seattle 82 79 32.7 .547 .749 1.5 10.9 1.8 18.7
'95-96 Seattle 79 76 33.3 .561 .742 1.6 11.4 2.2 19.6
'96-97 Seattle 81 75 34.0 .510 .742 1.0 10.0 1.9 18.7
'97-98 Cleveland 80 80 34.6 .445 .727 1.1 9.3 2.5 18.0
'98-99 Cleveland 42 42 35.1 .482 .789 1.1 9.2 2.4 20.5
'99-00 Cleveland 82 82 30.4 .417 .776 1.7 8.8 1.7 17.8
'00-01 Portland 68 3 15.9 .407 .771 0.3 3.8 1.0 6.5
'01-02 Portland 75 5 16.4 .430 .794 0.4 3.8 0.7 6.1
'02-03 Orlando 79 55 20.7 .418 .742 0.4 5.7 0.7 6.8
Career Totals -- -- -- -- 889 728 33.0 .488 .741 1.2 10.9 1.6 14.6


External links

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