May 2, 2002
By Steve Davis
The Dallas Morning News
If hobnobbing with Spice Girls and movie starlets doesn't elevate your pop culture status, sitting in David Letterman's guest chair certainly does.
Mavericks point guard (and former Santa Clara star) Steve Nash appeared Wednesday on Letterman's Late Show, taking advantage of a break in the NBA playoff schedule to crack wise with CBS' All-Star prankster in the famously cold Ed Sullivan Theater.
Nash, once a tabloid target for his liaisons with Elizabeth Hurley and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, is just the second NBA player to guest on Letterman this year. Former Maverick Jason Kidd, now playing for New Jersey, was the other.
Letterman is known for getting a little ornery with some guests. But Nash said the Late Show host was pretty tame, or "pretty middle of the road," in the guard's words.
Nash's self assessment?
"I was pretty, uh, I don't know. I was me," Nash said in typical nonchalance.
Appearing after diva-of-the-moment Kirsten Dunst, Nash wore jeans, sneakers and a Western-sheik shirt. He talked about the club's multi-lingual roster.
"And all of us are picking up Ebonics," he told Letterman.
The genesis of Nash's appearance came in February on a Mavericks trip to New Jersey. Some of the club's support staff, including media relations director Gregg Elkin, used NBA contacts to get tickets to Letterman's show. The NBA put Elkin in touch with Letterman's crew, who mentioned interest in a Mavericks player appearance at some point.
Fast forward to last Monday, when NBA manager of media relations Michael Broeker told Elkin that Letterman's people were asking about Nash. Broeker suggested that Elkin call Letterman officials, which Elkin did Monday.
"They love Steve," Elkin said. "They like that he's just like a regular guy."
Elkin ran the idea past Nash, then sought approval from coach Don Nelson and owner Mark Cuban. All gave a thumbs-up.
Nash taped the show Wednesday evening, then had dinner with Dirk Nowitzki's sister Silke Nowitzki. Silke lives in New York, where she works in the NBA's International TV division.
Nash was scheduled to be on a 6 a.m. flight Thursday, set to arrive in Dallas in plenty of time for an 11 a.m. practice.
While some local sports radio shows questioned whether Nash should be jet-setting to New York as he battles fatigue, none of the All-Star guard's teammates seemed to mind. In fact, more of Wednesday's team chatter was about Nowitzki's cover-boy status in Sports Illustrated.
Nowitzki and Nash are good friends. Did Nowitzki offer Nash advice on what to wear?
"He dressed sloppy, like always," Nowitzki said. "There's no advice I have to give him. He's doing great with the media. He's always funny and being himself."