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Steve Scheffler looks back on his 'Cinderella ride'

Less than two weeks ago, ESPN's Michael Jordan 10-part documentary "The Last Dance" concluded. Episode 8 of the series highlighted Jordan and the Chicago Bulls championship over the Seattle Supersonics — their fourth title in six years.

Posted: May 29, 2020 12:10 AM
Updated: May 29, 2020 1:19 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Less than two weeks ago, ESPN's Michael Jordan 10-part documentary "The Last Dance" concluded.

Episode 8 of the series highlighted Jordan and the Chicago Bulls championship over the Seattle Supersonics — their fourth title in six years.

That Supersonics team featured Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and former Purdue standout Steve Scheffler.

Scheffler took a chance playing college basketball and it paid off.

"If I had to do it again, I wouldn't bet on me getting as far as I did," Scheffler said. "I was very fortunate."

Scheffler never folded the hand he was dealt.

"I had a nice Cinderella ride," Scheffler said.

That ride wasn't always nice. Scheffler had trouble reading. The Grand Rapids, Michigan was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age.

"On the basketball court, it wasn't much of an issue," Scheffler said.

But Scheffler still struggled on the hardwood and it was obvious to one of his college coaches.

"He told me, 'you were the worst recruiting mistake in Purdue basketball history,'" Scheffler said. "'If you want to do spring football, practice is starting up and we know the football coach would love to have you.'" Hint, hint could we please be free of this basketball scholarship because this guy is a Forest Gump on our team! This guy is never going to make it."

Dunk Forest! Dunk!

Scheffler proved all his coaches wrong. As a senior, the 6-foot-9 center won Big Ten Player of the Year. The same year, Scheffler was selected in the second round of the 1990 NBA Draft.

Scheffler played sparingly over in his seven-year NBA career but was a fan favorite especially with the Seattle Supersonics. In 1996, Scheffler and Seattle earned a trip to the NBA Finals.

Officially I was in the game in the NBA Finals when it counted and was able to do something good," Scheffler said. "Then when we got the ball back on offense I was promptly taken out of the game but I didn't care and we ended up winning the game."

Scheffler and the Sonics won the game but lost the series to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Nearly 24 years later, 'Schef' is back in Grand Rapids. He's married with children and owns his own business. The now-52-year-old bet on himself and won big. But about the rap video he starred in during his playing days:

"That was before the internet," Scheffler said. "I go to a neighborhood picnic right? I'm like bygones be bygones and our neighbor picks up the phone and is like, 'look at this!' That's not fair. Yeah it's there. I'm a rapper."

Scheffler can rap but he has yet to watch "The Last Dance." He plans to watch his alma mater play this upcoming season. Scheffler, his brother Tom, who also played for the Boilermakers and their 92-year-old father try to catch a game every year.

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