If he were trying out for a role in a newspaper drama, Curry Kirkpatrick would be cast as a copyboy or, with luck, a cub reporter. But despite his youthful appearance and the beachboy-blond hair, despite his passion for rock 'n' roll and his addiction to ice cream and the fact that he recently bought a house in Connecticut partly because it had a basketball key painted on the driveway, Associate Editor Kirkpatrick is close to 30 and something more than a cub. In 1972 he wrote 20 stories for this magazine, each as pungent and spicy as his first name, and for the last two year-end issues he has been chosen to write our Sportsman of the Year feature. His latest article, on college basketball's best guards (page 16), is his 11th cover story, five of them written in 1972 alone.
Basketball, golf and tennis are Curry's specialties, but he has made forays into surfing (body and board), soft-ball and other sports to search out the "crazies" he loves to write about: tennis bad boy Ilie Nastase, basketball coaches Al and Frank McGuire, Mississippi shooter Johnny Neumann, touring softball entrepreneur Eddie Feigner, and his alltime favorite, Pistol Pete Maravich of LSU. He has covered basketball games from Nova Scotia to Hawaii as well as tennis in eight countries, and if there is a good game somewhere he has not been assigned to cover, be it in Morgantown, W. Va., or Logan, Utah, he is likely to show up at the press table anyway—after explaining to the guard that, no, he is not the ball boy.
As for the greasy kid stuff, Kirkpatrick has been an avid rock 'n' roll fan since his prep school days in Niagara Falls, N.Y., where the high point of his athletic career was once scoring in double figures for the varsity basketball team even though he had chicken pox. He admits to visiting Grace-land, Elvis Presley's palatial home in Memphis, and waiting around hoping for a glimpse of Elvis. He once ran into rock idols Bo Diddley and Gary U.S. Bonds in an airport—Curry the K is always in airports—and "It was the thrill of the year for me."
Still, there does not seem to be any immediate danger that SI will lose him to Crawdaddy or Rolling Stone because the college basketball season is here again and he loves it all—the flavor of the sport that he captures so well, and of course the games themselves.
"I like the college version much better than the pro," he says. "The pros are too good for me. They don't make enough mistakes. The powerful teams always win in the pros. Rules—allowing slowdowns and stalls—can equalize two mismatched teams in college."
Several years on the basketball beat have left him with some preferences and prejudices. Best pompon girls: UCLA. Best coaching: Philadelphia's Big Five. Worst referees: Hawaii. Noisiest fans: at Big Five games in the Palestra. Best basketball: "Anywhere there's a beach and a Baskin-Robbins. But the place where it's the most fun to see a game is Marquette." How come? Because, the connoisseur explains, "Something insane always happens there."