An assist from Darrell Griffith, the Doctor Dunkenstein

My son Steve was four or five years old, my wife was teaching summer school at Male High School during the summer of 1979.  For some reason he had accompanied her to school that day.

He doesn’t remember the experience but his mom sure does, and his dad will always be envious.

Darrell Griffth with Denny Crum at the NCAA Region last season.
Darrell Griffith with Denny Crum at the NCAA Region in Lexington last season.

Around lunchtime they wandered down to the gym. Everything wasn’t air conditioned in those days so it was pretty hot in the middle of the summer. Much to their surprise, they find a basketball player with a University of Louisville sweatshirt dribbling around a jumbled row of chairs, working on his foot work.

After a little small talk, the player tossed the ball to Steve, wanting him to take a few shots. But the highlight for his mother came when the big guy, 6-foot-5, would pick up the little guy, 3-foot-9, and raise him above his head so junior could shove the ball in the rim. He would have to do it two or three times, of course.

The player turned out to be Darrell Griffith, preparing for his senior year. He was already considered the best player in Louisville history, known to many fans as a “living legend.”  He would become UofL’s all-time leading scorer with 2,333 points in his career, a record that still stands. His number, 35, was retired during ceremonies after the 1980 season. He would get drafted by the Utah Jazz the next season.

Griffith was announced Tuesday as a member of the 2014 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted in November at Kansas City, Missouri where the hall is located. The Naismith Hall will come later (it better).

Congratulations and thanks for the memory, Darrell. Doesn’t get much better than a one-on-one lesson from the Doctor of Dunk.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

5 thoughts on “An assist from Darrell Griffith, the Doctor Dunkenstein”

  1. Congratulations to Mr. Griffith. I saw this (HOF) on a television crawler earlier, made me very happy.

    Great story about your son’s brush with greatness.

  2. I’m glad she remembers the story because I sure don’t. And I doubt I was 3’9″ by that point either. I don’t think I made that height until my junior year. 😉

    I do remember meeting him a few years later on the Toonerville Trolley downtown, however, and he was just as gracious giving me an autograph that day.

    I wonder if he remembered me… 🙂

  3. About time Grif got in. What took so long? As for Grif…I had the misfortune of having to guard him my junior and senior years in high school. It wasn’t pretty. He killed me. The only player who ever punished me more was the late Robert Miller…a 6″9″ center at Central.

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