Long before a big blonde German was known only by "Dirk," another player had the same name and played for the Celtics.  Maybe you remember Dirk Minniefield, whose career we look back on today in What the Hell Happened To.

Dirk won Mr Basketball for the State of Kentucky upon graduating high school and was a high-riser in college at Kentucky.  I never got to see him play there but check this out:

Minniefield was drafted by the Mavericks in the second round of the 1983 draft.  Yet he didn't make his NBA debut until two seasons later, in October of 1985 for the Cavs.  He'd stick with the Cavs for one season before being traded to the Rockets for a second round pick.  After playing with Houston, he'd have a brief stop in Golden State before landing on the Celtics, signing with them December 17, 1987.

I've commented many times in the past just how atrocious that 1988 team's bench was.  Dirk definitely didn't help the cause when he was there.  He'd actually play in 61 games, starting in 6 of them and averaging 14 minutes per night.  He participated in the first NBA game I ever attended (that's right folks, the A-Train himself started in place of Robert Parish that night who was out injured).

Dirk would play in 11 games in that season's playoff run.  That ended his NBA career.

Most of the information you'll find about Dirk talks about his drug problems.  He also had 3 children before graduating high school and today, at the tender age of 50, has 8 grandchildren.  More recently, Dirk was very affected by the suicide of college teammate and former NBA player Mel Turpin last year.  He said:

"At one time you were a celebrity, a pro basketball player, a star," Minniefield said. "Now people are asking, 'What happened to you? Why are you working in that job?'

"It can create issues and feelings of worthlessness. It's difficult, especially in your hometown." 
I suppose that could be the theme for the WTHHT segment of players.  Based on that I'm surprised that Mark Acres and Fred Roberts would go back to their home states to teach.

Dirk got away from Kentucky though and today, lives in Sugar Land, Texas.  There he is involved with Wildcat Real Estate and Management Group.  I had a tough time figuring out what they do.  I wonder if they have the same flexibility as the company owned by Xavier McDaniel.  Dirk also has been involved as a counselor in the NBA Player Assistance Program for the past 19 years.  Just like Carlos Clark and Wayne Kreklow, Dirk's son Darin, is a promising basketball player.

***Addendum 6/29/12***  Looks like Dirk's gotten into a bit of legal difficulty
Dirk Minniefield has entered a federal pretrial diversion agreement stemming from 2008 conspiracy and wire fraud charges in an alleged mortgage scheme in Texas.
The 2008 indictment said that in Houston, where Minniefield was a real estate agent, he allegedly represented buyers in transactions even though he never met them and they never asked to look at the properties they supposedly were buying. Minniefield was accused of proposing language in the sales contract to increase the price of the properties to include payment for renovations even though neither the buyer nor the seller hired a contractor for home improvements. The scheme involved about $10 million in mortgage loans from November 2004 to May 2005, according to the indictment.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/06/26/2239000/ex-uk-player-minniefield-enters.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/06/26/2239000/ex-uk-player-minniefield-enters.html#storylink=cpy
Only Dirk isn't in the Hall

For a complete list of the "What the Hell Happened To" Series please click here.

tb727 4/10/2011 12:01:00 AM Edit
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7 Responses so far.

  1. Win lose or draw that dunk was unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. The backboard is a hazard to shoulders.

  2. Bohemian says:

    Very good article, TB. I am so envious you could watch Bird, McHale, Ainge...and Otis Birdsong play live!! :P

  3. rob says:

    There's a GREAT book about George Karl and a season with him coaching the Albany Patroons in the 80's...and, if I'm not wrong (memory being what it is) one of his "bubble" players that year (i.e., guys with enough talent to get the call if they fit with the right team) was Dirk M...who he's TRYING to get a tryout with the Celtics. And Karl seemed to have a lot of trouble getting through to him--what he needed to do to make an NBA roster and stick, and all that. It's a great book for fans of the marginal players and those--and this seems to be the happy case here--interested in them and what makes some CBA players have long NBA stays, and what makes some last a couple of 10-day contracts...it covers a lot of solid players that are held back (either talent or attitude-wise...or, as in the case of, say a Ronnie Granderson, someone with the game of a power forward in the body of an NBA small forward--a LOT of VERY good players are afflicted with this tweener-ness). They have the wrong skill set for the size/talent of their body...having played a little at a DIV 3 (clearly nothing to brag about...and I hope it doesn't come off that way...though Charles Smith did do a monster dunk over me once in High School...unlike Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen, however, I didn't assault him with everything shy of a shiv...the poor bastard would have had to show an X-ray to get a call from those blind savage refs), I saw a LOT of killer guys who were PERFECT two guards in summer leagues, but they were 5'-10" and not rocket-quick, like say the physically amazing Mugsy Bouges...their skills, even at that size, worked at SG in HS and college, but not against the level of talent/speed/size that tends to be with players 1 through 8 or 9 on the depth an NBA bench.

    Or, as in the case of the '88 Celtics, the talent that went from 1-5 or 6 deep, which was their downfall.

    I'll try to find the title of the book...have it at home, and I'm the road now. Love this feature. Wish someone had it for the Knicks...though it would probably bring too many painful memories for me, there. If a basketball team can cause symptoms of PTSD, the Knicks and their sad history are one of those teams.

    LOVE the WTHHT pieces. Memory lane! Thank you.

    And the repeated references to cranky Otis Birdsong being steamed at every plump contract for every stiff mentioned crack me up every time.

  4. tb727 says:

    Rob you're my FAVORITE poster, glad you like these lol! I myself had a couple of Div 3 colleges that wanted me to play hoops there but I declined. I did get dunked on by Elton Brand in high school and also played against Ron Artest and God Shammgod.

    I actually never knew Karl coached the Albany Patroons, although I knew that's where Whistling Phil got his start...

  5. tb727 says:

    And yes agree 100% with the 88 Celtics, their bench being their downfall (same as 1987). I thought Jim Paxson would be that guy in 1988. Really thought he was the missing piece. Didn't turn out that way.

    Also would've been great if they got Antoine Carr to back up the frontcourt. I believe they gave him an offer sheet early in the season.

    That way Carr would also have a WTHHT written on him!

  6. tb727 says:

    Btw Rob what high school did you play at when you went up against Charles Smith? And for more on Smith's block, be sure to check out my Stacey King piece lol.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I grew up in Lexington KY at the same time as Dirk M. Played against and watched from the the time he was in middle school through UK including the olympic trials at UK.

    He was an awesome athlete and great BB player. Two things prevented him from reaching his potential & being a superstar. He played in a very structured pound it inside offense at UK and most unfortunately was his drug problem. He was an unbelieveable player who excelled in the open court and had great range on his jumper.

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