I’m going to miss David Letterman.
Admittedly, I didn’t watch as much of him in recent years as I did in my youth, but I always related to his irreverent sense of humor. The Top 10 list was iconic and ahead of it’s time, but it was things like “what happens if we throw a bunch of watermelons off the top of a building” that just worked when he did it.
Letterman also had some brilliant sports moments.
Every so often, one of the writers would pitch a really obscure sports joke to David Letterman for the show. He always liked those kinds of sports jokes, especially if they involved one of his cherished Indiana Pacers of the old American Basketball Association or some little-known baseball player or something to do with 1950s wrestling.
“He’d laugh,” says Justin Stangel, who, with his brother Eric, served as Letterman’s head writers for 14 years, from 1998 to 2013. “Then he’d say, ‘Sure, nobody’s going to get it. But that’s fine.’”
“Probably three people thought it was hilarious,” Eric says. “But those three people thought it was REALLY hilarious.”
In a way, that tidbit explains why David Letterman meant so much to me and everybody I knew. Letterman was one of us. And by “one of us” I mean David Letterman was (and is) a sports fan, deep down, through and through. He’s not a “celebrity” sports fan — you know, the kind who is seen at places or who might hold his own in a 30-second sports conversation.
No, Letterman is a sports fan, a you-and-me sports fan, the sort of guy who cares too much, the sort of guy who will come up with all sorts of theories about Tom Brady and deflated footballs, the sort of guy who would rag Eric Stangel endlessly whenever his beloved San Diego Chargers lost.
Over at Sportsworld we’ve also compiled a list of the best sports moments from Letterman, complete with videos.
Letterman had some brilliant basketball moments — like when David Stern read the “Top 10 Things I learned as Commissioner.”
No. 10: Dr. J. is not a licensed physician.
But my personal favorite was just sending Steve Nash to the 2009 NBA Finals as a correspondent.