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Dirk Minnifield Kentucky Legend

You cannot ask a Kentucky fan that had the opportunity to see Dirk Minniefield play without a smile coming to their face, usually followed by a look of sadness.

Let me explain.  Dirk Minnifield was a home grown Lexington Kentucky high school legend.  During his high school days at Lafayette high school, Dirk had as much buzz around him in central Kentucky as Richie Farmer did in Eastern Kentucky.

Many feel this Dirk Minnifield Dunk is the best in the history of UK Wildcat basketball.



Mr. Basketball State of Kentucky 1979
Parade All-American
Scholastic Coach All-American
McDonalds All-American

UK Season Notes:

1980-81: All-SEC [Third Team (AP & UPI)]
1981-82: All-SEC [Second Team (AP & UPI)]; SEC Tournament MVP
1982-83: All-SEC [Third Team (UPI)]

Post-UK Career Notes:

Drafted #33 Overall in the 2nd Round of the 1983 NBA Draft by Dallas

Season Games
Minutes FG FGA % FT FTA % Total
Asst. St. BS F TO Total
1979-80 34 691 68 142 47.89 35 49 71.43 70 126 34 2 82 75 171
1980-81 28 890 118 213 55.4 55 63 87.3 79 151 35 79 71 291
1981-82 30 1034 128 251 51 84 111 75.68 94 188 42 1 90 87 340
1982-83 31 948 108 199 54.27 51 68 75 88 181 45 97 109 267
Total 123 3563 422 805 52.42 225 291 77.32 331 646 156 3 348 342 1069



While at Lafayette High School in Lexington, he was named the 1979  Kentuckys Mr. Basketball  an honor given to the top high school player in the state.   In addition to “Mr. Basketball”, he was also named a McDonald’s and Parade High School All-American.

If you are reading this then I the odds are you know, Dirk played college ball at UK where he became a member of the prestigious UK 1,000 point club.

Dirk was a high flying 6’ 3 guard that provided Big Blue Nation some of the most memorable dunks in the history of Kentucky basketball.  Some would argue the most memorable in college basketball history.   These memories bring a smile to many Kentucky fans.


Unfortunately that smile usually turns into sorrow.  After Dirks UK basketball career, a lot of information came out regarding his troubling childhood.

In 1983, he was drafted in the second round  of the NBA draft.  (33rd overall) by the Dallas Mavericks. The 6 ft 3 in  180 lb  guard played three seasons in NBA, making stops in ClevelandHoustonGolden State, and Boston

Many published reports from Dirk and others have shared that Minniefield began regularly using marijuana around the age of  14.  Most of Dirks adult life he has spent trying to council young athletes and help them not make the same mistakes he made. 

Minniefield was a father of three children by the time he graduated from high school, and had eight children by the time his short NBA career ended.

He has had alcohol and drug challenges.  Dirk who has been sober since the early 1990s, told a group of top high school prospects in 2007 that “My younger kids have never seen me take a drink. They don’t know the daddy the older kids know. They know a totally different guy.”

His drug problem continued into college. He admitted to having carried a vial of cocaine with him regularly during his senior year at UK, and frequently took hits of the drug before games. 

In the 1983 NCAA Mideast Regional final he had smoked marijuana.

As fate would have it, he had the ball late in the game, with UK clinging to a narrow lead against arch rival Louisville.   He went into the lane and threw up a tentative shot that UofL center Charles Jones blocked. The Cardinals went on to force overtime and then dominated the extra period, winning 80-68. He would later say about the incident:


 You only have certain moments in your life. You have to seize your moment. I missed my moment. I don’t know if the marijuana had an impact. I’m not a doctor. Being a player, I’m going to say that (it did)… Any other time, I would dunk that ball. I know I was depressed about it for probably the first two years after college. It played a part in my drug use, the depression. Being from Lexington, I had to listen (to complaining fans) more than anybody else would  “


Dirk’s drug use eventually contributed to the early end of his NBA career. He returned to Lexington, but wound up serving a year in jail after writing bad checks and violating probation on those charges. His first wife divorced him and he left Lexington “penniless”. He found his way to the John Lucas Drug Abuse Center in Houston.

After treatment, Minniefield worked as transportation manager—according to him, “A better word is van driver”—for the San Antonio Spurs while Lucas was coach. He would go on to be a head coach/general manager in the United States Basketball League (USBL) for the Miami Tropics (a team that Lucas owned) and serve as the Spurs’ strength and conditioning coach. When Lucas left for the Philadelphia 76ers, Minniefield took a job as a drug counselor with the NBA to enable him to stay in Houston

In 2008 Dirk ran into some legal challenges in Houston.  This is what his lawyer Steven Rosen said his client was not guilty of the allegations.

“What Dirk Minniefield was guilty of was being negligent,” Rosen said, and he “was probably being too loyal to people and got caught up with something he shouldn’t have got caught up with.”

“He just really wasn’t part of the planning and the design of the mortgage fraud,” Rosen said.  At Wildcat gifts, we hope all Kentucky fans will continue to remember Dirk Minnifield and his family in our thoughts and prayers.   Be thankful for the kids that have provided us years of wonderful memories.

MINNIFIELD TO BOWIE  The Best Assist in Kentucky History?



Dirk Minnifield Interview


We hope Wildcat Gifts readers enjoyed this trip down memory lane remembering the Legendary Dirk Minnifield. As always your comments,  and feedback are welcome.  Do you have a friend that would enjoy reading this article?  Feel free to share, at Wildcat Gifts we depend on our customers
and readers word-0f-mouth.  Thanks!

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