Where are they now: Craig Kilborn

Last night before going to bed I ran across the following article on former Bobcat basketball player Craig Kilborn. Of course he is known by most people as the former ESPN personality, former Daily Show star (now held by John Stewart) and former Late Late show host ( now held Craig Ferguson). He also has made a career out of cameo appearances in a handful of comedies. There seems to be one pattern to Kilborn and his jobs. Once he leaves them the next guy in line really walk into a great deal.

It is nice to see Kilborn back on the national scene for no other reason is that maybe he might mention the Bobcat’s once or twice. As an ESPN anchor he would go out of his way to find a reason to make sure the Bobcats got a shout out., When the men’s basketball team made any type splash on the national scene he made sure if he was anchoring to get a high light in. Even once while he was doing the Late Late Show he dedicated a whole show devoted to Montana State. The guy was loyal.

Back in his days as a basketball player at MSU his main attribute was his deep shooting range. His sophomore year he the NCAA was experimenting with difference three point shooting distances. The Big Sky had the longest distance in college 23-0 (9″ shorter than the NBA). Kilborn if left open could hit a three point shot from 2-4 feet beyond that regularly. During his freshman year on the MSU JV team he scored close to 30 against the Griz JV (and remember there we no 3 point shots back then). The problem Kilborn had was that he could not create his own shot and needed to be wide open, still he was a great zone breaker.

By the way the above article mentions that Kilborn lead the Big Sky in turn overs while he played for MSU. This is something Kilborn has quipped many times. While it would not surprise me if he led the league in turn overs per minute played (if they kept that stat) I saw in person every home game (and quite a few away games) for the season he played and I can tell you he never played enough minutes to come close to that mark.

Kilborn gave up basketball after his junior year, but stayed at MSU, and finished up his degree. He wrote for the Exponent, and even stayed involved with basketball program to a degree.

I first met Kilborn in 1981 when he was a freshman at MSU. I had made friends with two other freshman basketball players on my floor in Hedges South. Kilborn lived a different floor in S. Hedges but I got to know him a little through my friends on the team. I really did not really get to have any in depth conversations with Kilborn until year later after he had decided to hang up his sneakers.

I would often go and hang out in the field house to watch practices while waiting for a ride home and the first week of classes in the fall of 1983 I found myself their. Out of the blue high in the upper deck of the field house he plopped down next to me, and started telling me about this red head 6-8 freshman from Michigan named Tom Domako. He went on for about 15 minutes without stopping sounding like a poor man’s Dick Vital, with one cliché after another. To this day I can not remember what he said to other than I think he said “He’s a shooter” 12 times. When he was all done, I have to admit I was a little irritated, and I looked at him and said something to the effect, so I take it you think he can shoot it a little. He looked at me puzzled and said Domako is going to be a league MVP write it down. Now I looked at him with a puzzled look and said he does not look to be any of a better shooter than you. Kilborn looked at me and said, this kid has one advantage over me, he can play. That one self deprecating gave me the first hint that Kilborn might not be as arrogant as I thought.

Over the next year or so Kilborn joined me up in the second deck of the field house a handful or so more times, and I would get to discuss basketball while watching the Bobcats practice, He became less irritating quickly and I enjoyed talking to him, but to be honest though I am not sure it really mattered whether I was there or not.

When you see Kilborn’s personality on TV that is not an act. That is him 24 hours a day 7 days a week. That snarky, smart-ass shtick is exactly what I saw whether he was on the basketball court, writing for the Exponent, or in the food hall. It takes a little bit to get used to, but it is pretty harmless. In any event I wish him well in his new venture and hope he continues to be a great advocate for Montana State.


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