There aren’t many places I consider myself inexperienced, but the red carpet at the ESPYS was certainly one of them, if my Chuck Taylors and little black dress ensemble didn’t make it obvious enough already. I’m used to having long sit down interviews with athletes willing to give me their undivided attention – pretty much the exact opposite from last week at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE.
Here are some of my favorite moments/interview clips from the red carpet with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment all under the same California sun:
Cody Regis from UCLA Baseball
Me: So Cody, I’m sure you were busy watching the All-Star Game last night? What was the best part of the night?
Cody (laughing): Well not Neil Diamond. Probably seeing Matt Harvey pitching.
Trey Burke, Utah Jazz
Me: You probably can’t answer this, but who names a team the Pelicans?
Trey: I actually got the opportunity to talk to someone when I went down there for a workout. They wanted a name that stood for the whole city, and when Katrina hit, they had a lot of pelicans, so it makes sense.
Me: If you could name a team, what would you pick?
Trey: Los Angeles Lions, or something fierce…
Me: Who’s the most fierce athlete here tonight?
Trey: Probably Adrian Peterson or LeBron. Those are two of the best athletes in the world and it’s an honor to be here amongst them.
Me: Put the two of them against each other in a hockey game, a sport neither plays – who wins?
Trey: I gotta go LeBron.
Nikki and Brie Bella, Total Divas
Me to Nikki: Those shoes [Louboutins] are amazing, but how the hell do you walk down the red carpet in those crazy high heels and crutches?
Nikki: I’m Superman’s girlfriend so that means I’m Superwoman, and it goes with the territory. I think the fact I was a soccer player for 11 years helped and then a wrestler for 8, so I have really strong legs. I feel like I was born in heels. I could skateboard in them.
Me: What do you think is harder: wearing a crazy long gown walking on stage for an acceptance speech in front of everyone or Louboutins and crutches?
Nikki: Definitely the crutches.
[Sidenote, Nikki really does date Superman, but he answers to John Cena.]
Datone Jones, Green Bay Packers
Me: What song pumps you up the most on the field?
Datone: I listen to a lot of instrumental – I’m into Kanye’s HAM right now.
Me: How can you sing along if it’s instrumental?
Datone: Who says I sing along? Sometimes I make up my own words, depends on who we’re going to play, but that’s my go-to song.
Me: Who does the best Lambeau Leap?
Datone: Datone Jones does it the best. Coming soon.
Me: Tell me a joke.
Michael: You see Chris Bosh’s long neck? He drink alcohol today, he don’t get drunk until tomorrow.
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
Me: I just saw your cover of the Body Issue…lookin’ good! How’s it feel to be out here with all your clothes on?
Me: Who is someone you could see tonight that would make you beyond excited?
Kenneth: Alicia Keys.
Me: How much would you pay for a private concert with her and her piano?
Kenneth: I wouldn’t pay for that, but I’d brag about it.
Elena Hight, US Olympic Snowboarder
Me: Who is the most extreme athlete you’ve ever met or want to meet?
Elena: I’d have to say Travis Pastrana is the most extreme athlete I’ve ever met.
Me: Who are you most excited to see tonight?
Elena: There are so many amazing athletes to see everyone. Definitely Vernon Davis and Abby Wambach, those are top two.
Me: So you just stripped down for ESPN’s annual Body Issue, does it feel weird having clothes on?
Elena: I’m definitely more liberal now.
Me: Who were you most nervous to see the photos?
Elena: My grandparents. They’ve seen it but I haven’t talked to them yet.
Me: Would you consider getting a large print and hanging it over their couch?
Elena: I don’t know about that, but I’m really proud of it. It was a cool experience.
Tony Kannan, Indy 500 Driver
Me: How excited are you to be here?
Tony: It’s awesome! This is the biggest sporting event in the world and to be a part of it is an honor, but to be a nominee, it makes me more nervous than before a race. I’m meeting some of my idols here.
Me: Who are your idols?
Tony: Dwyane Wade and Michael Phelps are at the top.
Me: Do you think either of them would fit in your race car?
Tony: No way. I’d like to see it, but then they would ask me to play or swim and that’s going to be terrible.
Me: Do you think you could play basketball?
Tony: No way, look at my size. I’m not Muggsy Bogues.
Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
Me: Big Eagles fan here, how you feeling tonight?
Brandon: It’s my first time here, just taking it all in and enjoying myself.
Me: What can Eagles fans look forward to this season?
Brandon: We’re going to be moving fast paced this season, scoring a lot of touchdowns. It’s definitely going to be a big year for the birds.
Me: What’s one song that pumps you up?
Brandon: The whole Jay-Z album. Holy Grail is my favorite.
Me: Speaking of that album, you’re stuck on a deserted island: Justin Timberlake or Jay-Z?
Me: Kobe or Lebron?
Brandon: Stranded for how long?
Me: Life. Forever.
Brandon: I’ll go with Kobe because Kobe will make up some stuff so we can make it through.
Mr. Belding, otherwise known as Dennis Haskins from Saved by the Bell
Me: Which well-known athlete do you think was in detention the most?
Mr. Belding: Maybe Floyd [Mayweather]. I know Floyd, he’s very nice, but everyone makes mistakes. You learn and grow and move on.
Me: Thanks Mr. Belding. Actually, what is your real name? I’m embarrassed I don’t know.
Mr. Belding: It’s Dennis.
Melissa Rycroft, former Bachelor Contestant, Dancing with the Stars
Me: You have by far the biggest smile of the night Melissa, you must be excited?
Melissa: Don’t tell my husband but I’m a big Jon Hamm fan, so I’m excited we get to see him all night long.
Me: If you could ask him one question, what would it be?
Melissa: If neither of us were married, what do you think would happen?
Me: What athlete do you love the most?
Melissa: Derek Jeter, I only met him once and I was so star-struck, I’d love to see him again for a do-over.
Me: If you could pick any partner for Dancing with the Stars, who would you pick?
Melissa: Derek Jeter, of course, and I’d definitely want to spend eight hours a day training with him. Don’t tell my husband, it’s date night tonight!
Me: On a scale of 1-10, how hot are you right now?
Cortez: I gotta give you a number? I’d say a 9.682.
Me: Do you know the only place hotter than that? Texas.
Cortez: Isn’t Vegas hotter?
Me: So you’re a smartass?
Cortez: Nah, just good at geography and stuff.
Me: Is there anyone here who’d make you pee your pants with excitement if you got to meet them?
Cortez: I do get star-struck, but I play it cool. I’m in the locker-room everyday with Troy Polamalu – how can you not be star-struck?
Me: So how do you play it cool? Avoid eye contact?
Cortez: I put on a façade and act like I been there before, even though this is my first time at the ESPYs.
Me: Who’s your favorite celeb?
Cortez: Probably Gabrielle Union.
Me: She just passed by!
Me: Over there, but remember, play it cool!
Cortez: I got this, blondie.
Me: Are y’all nervous?
Andy: Mostly excited. I think the thing that excites all of us is raising awareness for pediatric brain cancer. The athletes are great, but what excites us is telling everyone about this disease one more time in front of an awesome captive audience.
Me: Who are you most excited to see tonight?
Andy and Jack: We’re straight from the farm so it’s cool to see everybody. Obviously we’d love to meet Robin Givens as her and Jack share a common fight, so that’s someone our whole family would love to meet.
Kelly Clark, nominated for best female action sports athlete
Me: What’s the most nerve-racking part being here tonight? I know you’re up for a prestigious award…
Kelly: I don’t get to spend a lot of days in heels, so I’m loving every minute of it. As a woman, the heels are the biggest fear walking down the red carpet, but so far so good.
Me: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done in her career?
Kelly: At the ‘06 Olympics I went for it and came up short and ended up in 4th place. I think getting the courage to dream again after that is probably one of the hardest things. Getting back on the podium in Vancouver was a dream come true, and a victory in more ways than one.
Me: What do you say to young girls who want to be athletes like you?
Kelly: I would start with believing that nothing’s impossible. My work is a testament to that. And learn to be comfortable in your own skin. And in heels!
Me: Congrats on being here ladies! Who’s everyone most excited about seeing here tonight?
Team in Unison: LEBRON
Me: With or without a headband?
Team in Unison: WITHOUT!
Me: What do you say to young female athletes to motivate and encourage them?
Sarah Hammond: You never know what can happen as long as you try hard to do your best, and as long as you keep pushing forward, you can accomplish something like we did this year.
Bria Smith: We’re at the ESPYs this year, so we’re proof of that.
Sugar Shane Mosley, Boxer
Me: Welcome to the ESPYs Sugar Shane, how’s your night? Who are you most excited to see?
SSM: I know a lot of the athletes, so I’m excited to see non-sports related.
Me: Like who?
SSM: Well who’s here?
Me: A lot of actresses are here.
SSM: Yeah, I like actresses.
Me: Gabrielle Union just walked by looking gorgeous.
SSM: Yeah, her. She’s my favorite. How long ago did she walk by?
Destinee Hooker, Olympic Volleyball Player
Me: Since you’re from Austin, tell me something about Austin for those who have never been.
Destinee: It’s definitely loud and crazy and the energy is awesome. I love the fans and the energy. When I was in the Olympics, I put up the hook ’em sign and fans loved that.
Me: If you could meet anyone tonight, who would get you super excited?
Destinee: I’ve been hearing a rumor that Kevin Hart is here – I’d love to get a picture with him.
Me: If you could any anything to him, what would you say?
Destinee: I’d probably make a joke with him and put my arm on his head and say, “Remember when you said on the BET awards to turn up, well we’re going to turn it down.” [As she gives me a visual of her picture perfect moment towering over his pretend small stature]
Me: Who would you love to see on a surfboard?
Stephanie: Definitely one of the NBA guys, any of them. I think they could do it, they just need a really big surfboard. They’d probably have to use a 10ft board because they’re all about 9ft tall!
Me: What song pumps you up before you jump in the pool?
Jessica: “Club Can’t Handle Me” by Flo Rida. I’m not good at singing it, but I’m good at dancing to it when the time is right.
Jayme Lamm is a freelance sports and travel writer based in Houston and is currently in a full-court press writing her hugely opinionated sports column, The Blonde Side. Follow her travels for sporting events and check her out on Twitter.