The top 10 moments from the 2014 ESPY awards

Here’s an easy solution to fill at least one of “Saturday Night Live’s” casting vacancies: Hire Drake.

Host Drake speaks onstage during the 2014 ESPYS at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) Host Drake speaks onstage during the 2014 ESPYS at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Just as he did when he guest-hosted “SNL,” the Canadian rapper demonstrated his sketch comedy chops while hosting the ESPN’s ESPY Awards Wednesday night. (That’s “Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards.”) With some help from previously-recorded sketches, Drake moved fluidly between Fanboy Aubrey Graham — “Aubrey Graham” is Drake’s government name — British Drake, Young Money Drizzy-Drake, heavily accented Manny Pacquiao Drake, and Drake Griffin, or Drake as Clippers star Blake Griffin. He was quite the character.

RELATED: Michael Sam’s emotional, moving speech at the ESPYs

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL, was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN's ESPY awards. Here's a guide to who he thanked during his emotional speech. (The Washington Post)

While mostly light-hearted, the evening was punctuated by poignant and inspiring speeches from St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam and ESPN personality Stuart Scott, who has been battling cancer for seven years. We’ve chosen to share the top 10 funniest moments:

10.  Almond milk.

“You know, tonight a man told me that [Seattle Seahawk] Richard Sherman was the best defensive player that he had ever seen. And that man’s name was Richard Sherman …

“Richard Sherman pissed off more white people this year than a crowded parking lot at Whole Foods. You know they hate when they can’t get their almond milk, you know what I’m saying?”

9.  Restraining order!

Drake was encouraging some applause for the Los Angeles Kings, who recently won their second Stanley Cup in three years. “We happen to be a couple hundred yards from the Staples Center, which is about as close as Donald Sterling’s allowed to get.” Griffin laughed, then sheepishly straightened up once the camera panned to him, because well, technically, Sterling does still own the team.

Speaking of racism, Drake also had words for the NFL:

“Some rough words in football this year. Riley Cooper said some things. Richie Incognito said some things. I just want to stress, there is no room for racism in the NFL. Unless you own a team in Washington, D.C. Then it’s a go.”

8.  Russell Westbrook drag

Drake came out dressed as NBA fashion victim Russell Westbrook, who has never encountered two disparate patterns he was afraid to mix.


Russell Drakebrook — is that you? (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

He zinged Westbrook during his monologue, too: “I’ve been to Seattle. Their fans are incredible. If Century Link field was any louder, Russell Westbrook would be wearing it. You’ve had some terrible outfits in your life, my man.”

7.  “Let it Go” by Draquiao

In which Drake, playing boxer Manny Pacquiao following in the footsteps of Shaquille O’Neal’s rap album, records “Let it Go.” Draquiao is “coached” by Gary Cole, who plays pollster Kent Davison on “Veep.”

6.  #TextsFromMarshawn

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch appeared to be more interested in his phone than whatever was happening around him, probably because he just decided to drop by Nokia Theatre after a shopping trip at the Beverly Center, or maybe a beach stroll in Malibu. Literally everyone was in formal wear, and Lynch was like, “Thanks, but I’m going to kick it in jeans and a beanie.” Really, Marshawn? Mind you, one of his teammates turned up in a shiny beige print Bermuda-short suit. Yes, you read that correctly.

5.  Introducing Floyd Mayweather

What does it take to introduce the highest-paid athlete in sports? Well, for starters, a podium. Plus an entourage. A red carpet would also be welcome, and to top things off, Drake listing off Mayweather’s accomplishments in an English accent, flanked by two trumpeters dressed as court jesters.  

4.  Lordy, Lordy Michael Jordy

If you don’t spend your days tracking the social media drama of celebrities, it was easy to miss the point of this bit between Tulsa Shock star Skylar Diggins and Drake. Here’s the rundown: Drake thinks Diggins is pretty. Like, reeeeeally pretty. Apparently he and Rihanna are no longer doing … whatever they were doing. Anyway, Drake’s been posting pictures of Diggins on Instagram professing his admiration for her, err … basketball skills.

Diggins’s boyfriend, Daniel Smith, didn’t take too kindly to this, and posted a picture of himself with Diggins and then tagged Drake — which is Instagram Passive-Aggressive for “backup off my girl.”

Because Drake is completely lacking in the chill department — and also because he probably couldn’t resist trolling Smith — he wrote a poem for Diggins called “Can I Dig In,” which he read at the ESPYs while wearing a Diggins Notre Dame jersey. Because nothing spells love quite like bad spoken word poetry.

An excerpt:

Can I dig in?

Maybe a post-game rub-down, circling your body like a vulture Multiple convulsions, you’ll be shocked like Tulsa
Can I dig in?

I don’t consider myself a childish man Would like to take you out some time, maybe see you smile and dance

I’d also love to go from being a Skylar fan to ‘You are cordially invited to the wedding of Aubrey Graham and Skylar Graham’

Can I dig in?

The whole thing could have been headed toward uncomfy Robin Thicke “Paula” territory, but was saved by the fact that Diggins was in on the joke. She walked up behind Drake and “surprised him,” and he exclaimed, “Lordy, lordy Michael Jordy” at the sight of her. She agreed to give him a kiss in exchange for squashing the weird Instagram fixation, and after Drake downed a travel-size bottle of mouthwash, she planted a big one … on his forehead.

Sparks flew. Literally, ESPN had sparks go off moments after Diggins’s lips touched Drake’s forehead.


Can’t imagine Skylar Diggins’ man is too happy about this.(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

3.  “Honorable Mention” and “Side Pieces” — feat. Brian McKnight


Host Drake (L) and singer Brian McKnight sing a serious ode to side pieces, the “glue that holds the sports world together.” (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Drake penned three original songs, but the first two, “Honorable Mention” and “Side Pieces,” were real winners as he tapped into his reputation as Canada’s preeminent king of emo-rap.

“I know there’s a lot of winners in the house, but this first song is about the people they played against,” Drake said. “This is about the number twos, the runners up, the Dan Marinos … You remember that song ‘We are the Champions?’ Well, this is the B-side. I call it, ‘Honorable Mention.'” The high point occurred when Drake showed some solidarity with Kendrick Lamar with this line: “KD [Kevin Durant], I know you hear me. I know you understand me. Real talent doesn’t always win championships, and real music doesn’t always win Grammys.” A giant picture of Macklemore flashed on the screen behind him.

As for “Side Pieces,” Drake introduced the song by saying, “I want to send a shoutout to all the player wives in the house, the player husbands, the people who are so supportive and loyal to these athletes. Make some noise for yourselves. This next song has literally nothing to do with you at all. This is a song about the real glue that holds the sports world together.”

And then McKnight came in with the breakdown and everyone howled:

2. Drake vs. Blake

In one of the pre-taped sketches, Drake and Blake are in a strategy meeting for a movie starring the two of them when a disagreement erupts over whether to call it “Drake and Blake” or “Blake and Drake.” The rivalry between Drake and Blake gets so heated that the two impersonate each other after a series of escalating practical jokes. Drake does an interview as Blake and says, “As Blake Griffin, I love flopping. A lot of the time, there’s just so much demanded of me, it’s just better for me to fall down and take a little rest. I really don’t have much integrity. They tried to get me to do the NBA Cares commercials, and I always kindly decline. I’m just not into children … Do you know what team has the most white players, ’cause that’s probably where I wanna go. … I’m Blake Griffin, part of the dominant white race.”

1.  The Lance Cam The video clip of Charlotte Hornets shooting guard Lance Stephenson blowing on LeBron James will follow him to his grave, so at least he was a good sport about it:

Which was topped by the Double Lance Cam:


 

Below, a complete list of winners and nominees, with winners in bold:

BEST MALE ATHLETE
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Floyd Mayweather, Boxing

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE
Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx
Ronda Rousey, UFC
Mikaela Shiffrin, Olympic Skiing
Breanna Stewart, Connecticut Women’s Basketball

BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE
Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs, NBA Finals MVP
Shabazz Napier, Men’s NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
David Ortiz, World Series MVP

BEST MOMENT
Kevin Durant’s MVP acceptance speech
Mariano Rivera’s finale game
USA vs. Ghana, World Cup

BEST PLAY
Auburn Hail Mary
Paula Creamer 75-foot putt
Chris Davis field goal return
Damian Lillard buzzer beater

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers
Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees

BEST UPSET
Connecticut wins National Championship, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
Mercer over Duke, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
Chris Weidman over Anderson Silva, UFC

BEST GAME
Alabama vs. Auburn, Iron Bowl
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts, AFC Wild Card Playoff
New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings, Stanley Cup Finals Game 5

BEST TEAM
Boston Red Sox, MLB
Connecticut Women’s Basketball
Florida State Football
Los Angeles Kings, NHL
San Antonio Spurs, NBA
Seattle Seahawks, NFL

BEST COACH/MANAGER
Geno Auriemma, Connecticut Women’s Basketball
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
John Farrell, Boston Red Sox
Kevin Ollie, Connecticut Men’s Basketball
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

BEST COMEBACK ATHLETE
Josh Beckett, LA Dodgers
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Dominic Moore, NY Rangers
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

BEST INTERNATIONAL ATHLETE
Rafael Nadal, Tennis
Inbee Park, Women’s Golf
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, Real Madrid
Sebastian Vettel, Formula One

BEST NFL PLAYER
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers MLB
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks QB

BEST MLB PLAYER
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

BEST NHL PLAYER
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

BEST DRIVER
Scott Dixon, IndyCar
Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR
John Force, NHRA
Ryan Hunter-Reay, IndyCar
Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR

BEST NBA PLAYER
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Blake Griffin, LA Clippers
LeBron James, Miami Heat
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

BEST WNBA PLAYER
Elena Delle Donne, Chicago Sky
Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream
Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx
Candace Parker, LA Sparks

BEST FIGHTER
Jon “Bones” Jones, MMA
Floyd Mayweather, Boxing
Manny Pacquiao, Boxing
Ronda Rousey, MMA
Andre Ward, Boxing

BEST MALE GOLFER
Martin Kaymer
Adam Scott
Henrik Stenson
Bubba Watson

BEST FEMALE GOLFER
Stacy Lewis
Inbee Park
Suzann Pettersen
Michelle Wie

BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER
Novak Djokovic
Andy Murray
Rafael Nadal

BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER
Li Na
Agnieszka Radwanska
Maria Sharapova
Serena Williams

BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College Hockey
Doug McDermott, Creighton Basketball
David Taylor, Penn State Wrestling
Lyle Thompson, Albany Lacrosse
Jameis Winston, Florida State Football

BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
Morgan Brian, Virginia Soccer
Taylor Cummings, Maryland Lacrosse
Breanna Stewart, Connecticut Basketball
Micha Hancock, Penn State Volleyball
Hannah Rogers, Florida Softball

BEST MALE ACTION SPORTS ATHLETE
Grant Baker, Surfing
Tucker Hibbert, Snowmobile
Nyjah Huston, Skateboarding
Ryan Villopoto, Motocross/Supercross
David Wise, Halfpipe Skiing

BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORTS ATHLETE
Jamie Anderson, Snowboard slope style 
Maddie Bowman, Freestyle Skiing
Kelly Clark, Snowboard Superpipe & Halfpipe
Vicki Golden, Moto Racing
Carissa Moore, Surfing

BEST JOCKEY
Javier Castellano
Victor Espinoza
Joel Rosario
Mike Smith

BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY
Mark Bathum, Alpine Skiing
Declan Farmer, Sled Hockey
Raymond Martin, Wheelchair Racing
Mike Shea, Snowboarding
Evan Strong, Snowboarding

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY
Minda Dentler, Handcycling
Oksana Masters, Sitting Skier
Tatyana McFadden, Sitting Skier/Track & Field
Laurie Stephens, Alpine Monoskier
Jamie Whitmore, cycling

BEST BOWLER
Jason Belmonte
Wes Malott
Sean Rash
Pete Weber

BEST MLS PLAYER
Tim Cahill, New York Red Bulls
Marco Di Vaio, Montreal Impact
Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
Mike Magee, Chicago Fire

BEST MALE U.S. OLYMPIC ATHLETE
Joss Christensen, Slopestyle Skiing
Sage Kotsenburg, Snowboard Slopestyle
Ted Ligety, Alpine Skier
Charlie White, Ice Dancing
David Wise, Halfpipe Skiing

BEST FEMALE U.S. OLYMPIC ATHLETE
Jamie Anderson, Snowboard Slope style
Maddie Bowman, Halfpipe Skiing
Meryl Davis, Ice Dancing
Kaitlyn Farrington, Snowboard Halfpipe
Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skier

Rapper Drake hosted the 22nd ESPY awards in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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Lindsey Bever · July 17, 2014