The ESPYs have evolved into one of the best annual awards shows on television over the years. The event now includes an hour live red carpet special in addition to appearances from some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. On July 12, future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning hosted this year’s edition.
Manning’s almost as well-known for his personality off the field as his play on the field. He’s hosted “Saturday Night Live” and he’s won the battle between him and Brett Favre for having the most commercials as a retired football player under his belt. Manning has shown us many characters in the acting world over the years and he put all of that charisma into his opening monologue.
Manning set out a disclaimer that the network wanted him to tell a certain amount of jokes about fellow athletes. In a sarcastic tone, he said actually telling the jokes, while painful, were the only orders he was given.
A few minutes into the rapid fire of roasts, including the hometown L.A. Rams, Manning mentioned the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics squad. The “Final Five,” composed of Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian, won the most Olympic medals of any U.S. women’s gymnastics team ever in 2016.
Then came the dagger.
“Our gymnastics team is so dominant, Kevin Durant told me he wants to play for them next year,” Manning said while pointing at Durant in the front row.
The Golden State Warriors star appeared unphased by the joke while the rest of the venue, including Durant’s mom, laughed at Manning. After staring down Durant’s mug, Manning continued the joke.
“And I gotta tell ya, Kevin. I don’t think you’ll start for that team,” Manning said before quickly turning his attention to another NBA star on the other side of the venue. “Russell Westbrook, what do you think?”
Westbrook appeared to be trying his hardest not to show any reaction while the camera focused on him for six seconds that felt like an eternity. Westbrook’s wife didn’t hide her laughter sitting next to him.
As the internet exploded on the joke of the night, Durant tweeted his reaction in one simple emoji.