Wednesday brought us the 25th ESPY awards (I know, I can’t believe it, either), and host Peyton Manning didn’t go 25 seconds into the show before starting to roast people. He made fun of John Cena, last year’s emcee, as well as previous hosts, his brother Eli, the Knicks and many more, but the two-time Super Bowl champion got his biggest reaction with a joke about Kevin Durant.
Well, Manning got a huge reaction from everyone in the room at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles except for one attendee. Durant sat in stony-faced silence, apparently not amused at all.
And what was the ribbing that elicited such a noteworthy non-reaction? Manning said that the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team “was so dominant that Kevin Durant told me he wants to play for them next year.” Take a look at how that went over:
Kevin Durant was not feeling this Peyton Manning joke AT ALL pic.twitter.com/kdXTr2gE1E
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 13, 2017
Russell Westbrook didn’t offer much of a reaction, either, but it appeared that he might have been trying to hide a smile. On the other hand, Durant’s expression was so determinedly placid that some wondered if he was part of the act.
Big discussion in the audience here, on whether Kevin was in on the joke or not… https://t.co/TfoBy9J1cY
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 13, 2017
And on Thursday came news from ESPN’s Chris Haynes that this indeed was a bit, and that Durant was in on it the whole time. Bravo, KD, bravo.
For those interested, I'm told Kevin Durant was in on the Peyton Manning gymanistic team roast at #ESPYS2017. KD played his part well.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 13, 2017
Durant, of course, famously jilted Westbrook and the Thunder in free agency last year for the Warriors, joining a team that had just won an NBA-record 73 regular season games and come within a dramatic Game 7 ending of winning two straight Finals. He gained a large measure of vindication by not only helping Golden State avenge last year’s painful loss to Cleveland, but by earning Finals MVP honors in the process (Durant also went on to win a Best Championship Performance ESPY Wednesday), only to be reduced by Manning to a line he may have thought had long ago lost its punch.
The ferocity of that line hit home for many observers, though, as the Internet lit up with much more animated reactions than that offered by Durant.
Peyton Manning really the GOAT for this. pic.twitter.com/OenJ3CjvRE
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) July 13, 2017
Mama Durant even knows KD got roasted. Daaaaaamn son. pic.twitter.com/7lYhCP6tBJ
— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) July 13, 2017
Kevin Durant: "I won ring AND MVP now .. they have no choice but to respect me!"
— Androgynous Royalty. (@VigorousMental) July 13, 2017
— simone (@TennesseeHoney_) July 13, 2017
Grab the whole team and tell them Peyton getting jumped after the show pic.twitter.com/NTLNiVTBjA
— (@Dr_Sweets23) July 13, 2017
When you realize Peyton Manning wouldn't have roasted you if you just joined the Wizards pic.twitter.com/R6s0uZj0VZ
— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) July 13, 2017
If it makes Durant feel any better, at least it’s not like anyone can say, “Poor KD, he just can’t win.” Still, the superstar forward, who took many millions less than he could have this offseason to help the Warriors, couldn’t have been thrilled about taking a huge “L” on national TV Wednesday.