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With the NBA, NFL and NHL all in the midst of their offseasons and Major League Baseball taking a brief siesta following the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, Wednesday profiled as one of the longest, slowest, least lively days on the sporting calendar. In other words, it's a perfect time for ESPN to hold its annual ESPY Awards ceremony, focusing attention on all the stuff that happened over the past year, rather than the staggering amount of nothing going on at that particular moment.
It was also a perfect time for you to do anything other than watch sports stuff for one day a year, though, and if you did that, you missed some decent NBA-flavored joking by ESPYs host, "Mad Men" star and seemingly chill all-around bro Jon Hamm. His entire nine-minute opening worked quite well, but the clear highlight of the monologue came when he broached what was clearly still a sore subject for attendees at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles — Dwight Howard's decision to leave the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.
"Dwight Howard recently announced he was leaving the Lakers to play ..." Hamm said before trailing off beneath a cascade of boos from the stands. "You guys heard? Leaving the Lakers to play for the Houston Rockets, which is ... you know ... he's leaving L.A. So I guess it looks like he finally found a way to help the Lakers win."
Hamm followed that by introducing a highlight package intended to honor Howard's "greatest moments as a Laker." It was a three-second snippet of Tina Turner — "you're simply the b-" — without any video footage. Zing!
Hamm tossed out a few other NBA gooves, as dutifully noted by Andrea Reiher of Zap2it.com:
He got in a funny crack about Ray Allen: "This is the 20th anniversary of the ESPYs. 20 years. Two decades. That means when the very first ESPYs aired, Ray Allen was only 35 years old."
And took a pot-shot at sports versus acting: "Chris Bosh recently got fined $5000 for flopping, while Johnny Depp just got paid $20 million for flopping."
And from Mike Bertha of Philly.com:
"The Heat won their second championship in a row this year, thanks, in large part, to their coach ... Bruno Mars. Love your work."
And from me, working my fingers to the bone over a hot keyboard this morning after not watching the telecast live last night:
Not only that, but Metta World Peace is leaving L.A., going to New York. I'm a little surprised at that. I thought if Metta went anywhere, it'd be right back to his home planet. [...]
The NBA Finals had absolutely everything — clutch shooting, edge-of-your-seat games and every single stage of male pattern baldness. It was a clinic. An absolute clinic. [...]
It's not all bad for the Spurs, though. Manu Ginobili is going to take some time off and do some traveling. I'm not sure if he'll get called for it, but he's going to do it anyway.
That's some good jokin', Mr. Draper.
The big winners of the evening, NBA-wise, were the Miami Heat, who won the ceremony's Best Team award after their second consecutive NBA championship-winning season and whose thrilling come-from-behind victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals won the Best Game ESPY, and LeBron James, who also won three individual awards: Best Male Athlete, Best NBA Player and Best Championship Performance. Beth Harris of The Associated Press has more on the celebration, if you feel like you missed a staggering amount of critical stuff.
Video via Beyond the Buzzer.