NELKE: Taking celebs in stride in Coeur d’Alene

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So apparently there was a big deal made last weekend about an NHL player being in town for some event.

OK, maybe it was because of his quite-famous bride-to-be.

Anyway, hopefully Coeur d’Alene has gotten past the point where people go too crazy over the site of a celebrity.

I mean, it’s cool when they are spotted around town, but no reason to go all TMZ over them.

One of the greatest hockey players of all time — in fact, he has a nickname suggesting that — has been known to dine at a lakefront restaurant during his stays here.

These guys gotta eat somewhere — wouldn’t be too much fun for them to hire somebody to make a Costco run so they can hole up in their vacation home the whole time.

SOMEBODY CALLED The Press once to alert us that John Elway was in town, eating lunch downtown. We dutifully made the 2-3-block walk and snapped a photo of him, though he, too, has a place around here and has been here before.

Last year about this time, rumors flew that Kobe was in town, for the wedding of an ex-Laker teammate who is also a former Zag. That got social media hopping.

All I know is, I attended a wedding that evening. It was a nice wedding, albeit without Kobe or any ex-Zags that I could tell. One of the neighbors’ cows did mosey on up to the fence to get a close-up view of the nuptuals. That was kind of cool.

One time, sitting at a table in the restaurant after playing a round at Circling Raven, I looked over to the next table and saw Dick Butkus, the former Bears linebacker. Seemed like a nice enough fellow, as he joked with his playing partners after their round. He probably wouldn’t have minded if we’d gone over and said hello — his days of chasing down running backs and clotheslining them as they tried to get away from him were so long ago. That wasn’t even a 15-yard penalty back then.

Still, we let him be.

REMEMBER WHEN Shaq was here over New Year’s Eve?

He’s someone who actually wouldn’t mind people making a fuss over in public — and from internet reports, seemed to have a pretty good time being out and about in Coeur d’Alene.

But why he was here in the first place — don’t get me wrong, we know how beautiful this place is, but in the winter, when it’s cold and snowy, and a megastar like Shaq could go anywhere in the world to ring in the new year ... — no one seemed to know.

Last week a past and a present NFL quarterback were in town. Yes, they were surrounded by a dozen or so teen-age boys — but that was for a group photo after Brock Osweiler and Jake Plummer threw passes to the high school boys, and gave tips to the receivers and quarterbacks.

I’m sure when Brock goes back home to Kalispell, to shop for Clover Club potato chips or check out the new Chick-Fil-A in town, he’s just Brock who played at Flathead.

And Jake comes off as the unpretentious, fun guy we all knew when we went to high school — just with a lot better arm, and a few other inate skills. Once, he announced on Twitter he was going to be at McEuen Park that afternoon, in case anybody wanted to stop by and catch some passes. Heck, when he lived in Sandpoint, he was a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels.

RECENTLY, WE got a hot phone tip that Russell Wilson was down at The Coeur d’Alene Resort.

A few minutes later, we got a not-so-hot tip that he was NOT down at The Resort.

Whether he was or he wasn’t is almost irrelevant.

Part of the reason celebs probably feel safe in coming here is they can go out in public without fear of being badgered.

I’m sure many of our readers have had chance meetings with celebs in town, and have a story or two to share.

A few years ago, a co-worker went downtown after deadline to meet up with a few buddies, when he saw who he thought was Gary McCord, the colorful CBS golf commentator.

Our co-worker was sure that was him — the handlebar mustache was a hint and a half — but kept looking at him, just to be sure.

As the story goes, McCord saw this, and decided to set the record straight — and also decided to have a little fun by invoking the name of a friend and fellow golf commentator for NBC.

McCord walked up to our co-worker and said, “Yep, you’re right. I’m Roger Maltbie.”

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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