Live at Nokia Theatre LA Wednesday night were ESPN's annual ESPY Awards honoring the courage, commitment and sheer excellence demonstrated by exceptional athletes the world over. Justin Timberlake hosted the evening by keeping up a continual song and dance shtick while bantering with the guests - at one point even kneeling down in front of David Beckham and kissing his shoe so he could "smell what $250 million dollars smells like." Throughout the event we heard PSAs, MC'd by Kermit The Frog, and references to ESPYs Environmentality which is ESPN's parent company (Disney's) well thought out plan and execution to "green" awards shows and events.
"Best Team" Boston Celtics on ESPYs 2008 Red Carpet
Brett Favre took home the Best Record Breaking Performance. Many had predicted he would be a no-show for the event due to his "to retire/not to retire" bargaining with the Green Bay Packers of late. But show up he did and when he took the stage he spoke of "guts and the tenacity to win" as being key traits that got him there. As a player who played 16 straight years, every game, he is tenacity and commitment in action. "Thank you, and we'll see what happens," were his words as he left the stage.
Boston's Celtics took home the Best Team award, presented by Fergie and Kiefer Sutherland. "Another win in LA," was the team's acceptance comment on stage which was greeted by a mixed response from the predominantly Los Angeles guests. Team also commented that their Celtics over Lakers upset win shows that "Anything is possible."
Limos provided by the ESPYs for the honored guests were all bio-diesel powered. The Award's Red Carpet Event, Pre-Party and Press Tents' electricity were powered by solar energy, hooked up to solar panels installed discreetly around AEG's Nokia Theatre LA Live. Sustainable Waves is the company out of Austin/San Diego that provided the solar power generators and is the primary company in the U.S. currently who provides large-scale events with solar-powered electricity options.
ESPY's Solar Panels provided by Sustainable Waves
Best Male Athlete went to Tiger Woods who beat out Yankees' Alex Rodriguez who is the youngest player ever to hit 500 homeruns. And in a moment that felt purely unscripted, Will Ferrell trotted out on stage to accept the Best Male Athlete award on behalf of Tiger. The improv twist was that Ferrell played it off as if he were Tiger Woods, commenting, while clutching the award, "It's all about being the best athlete alive. I'm the best. In your face!"
Presented by David Beckham, Best Female Athlete Award went to Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks, WNBA who was also a presenter throughout the evening.
In the category of Best Moment the contenders were Danica Patrick's historical win, Jon Lester's no-hitter and Great Sportsmanship, Central Washington vs. Western Oregon Softball. The fans chose Great Sportsmanshiop as demonstrated by the rival team who carried Oregon ball player Sara Tucholsky around the bases after she hit a homerun and then threw her knee out rounding first base. "This is surreal," said the ball players as they accepted their award.
More heartwarming moments were when Samuel L. Jackson and Steve Nash presented the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to 1968 U.S. Olympic Team members John Carlos and Tommie Smith who, because of their political and civil rights activism at that time, were asked to leave the Olympic team. "Thank you for letting me be one of your heroes tomight," said Carlos. And Tommy Smith, before hop-skipping off the stage clutching his award, said: "Thank you for your faith and courage of light. I challenge us all to become proactive through fairplay."
Recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perserverance, Kevin Everett, walked up onto the stage, having recovered from full-body paralysis after suffering a broken neck on the playing field, said he gives "all the glory to God" for his recovery and that we must "Never give up."
The New York Giants took home the most ESPY awards for the evening, [including Best Upset and Best Play] with Eli Manning, flanked by his team members, accepting their win for Best Game, SuperBowl, Giants over Patriots. Best Male International Athlete went to Rafael Nadal, for his tenacious win over Federer. Best Outdoor Athlete went to Army Capt. Scott Smiley, Mountain Climber; Best Female International Athlete went to Lorena Ochoa, Golf.