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17 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

ESPY Awards 2015: List of Nominees and Predictions for Event’s Top Categories.

There’s no doubt that LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but many ESPY Awards viewers were livid when he took home the award for Best Championship Performance at Wednesday night’s show.

There will be the serious in things like the Jimmy V Perseverance Award, which Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still will accept on behalf of his daughter, Leah. James averaged 36 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in last month’s NBA Finals, but it wasn’t enough and the Golden State Warriors defeated James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in six games. LeBron James’ renown as a basketball player is, in effect, its own studio-audience situation: When we’re watching him “act” – as we are in the Judd Apatow-directed, Amy Schumer-penned Trainwreck, opening Friday – we’re doing it with the added weight of his on-court fame, and a healthy dose of our feelings about him as such. That competition included San Francisco Giants World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player Lauren Haeger from the University of Florida. Considering all three of LeBron’s competitors actually won their respective championships, viewers were not pleased with ESPN’s decision to give the Cavs’ star the award.

Since Jordan, since Kareem in Airplane!, probably since some Neanderthal who could put a spear through a giant elk’s eye at 100 paces made a so-so cave painting, there’s a been a tacit demand for people who excel in sports to branch out into entertainment. The King returned to Cleveland and led the Cavaliers to the Finals while leading anyone and everyone there in points, rebounds and assists despite the absences of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. The Jordan comparison is the most apt for James: Not only has his on-court career been freighted with the burden of living up to Jordan’s, but rumors of James’ possible involvement in a Space Jam sequel only amped our expectations for him to be an all-singing, all-dancing brand in the mold of the Mighty MJ.

Kobe Bryant might eerily mirror Jordan’s brand of basketball, but his attempts to expand his appeal with guest spots on Hang Time or rap albums fell flat, and so he settled into his role as unfeeling basketball cyborg. His early series of ads featuring The LeBrons split him into four characters – rather matter-of-factly named Wise, Business, Kid and Athlete – in an oddly prescient nod to the multiple roles that are demanded of superstar athletes.

He was the first unanimous Defensive Player of the Year in league history with 20.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, 10 swatted passes, 59 tackles and five total touchdowns between offense and defense. James didn’t win a title despite his superhuman effort, Rodgers’ performance was too long ago and if Watt couldn’t reel in MVP, he won’t nab this one, no matter how much he deserves it. The weird part is that after starting life as essentially a normal-looking cartoon, it morphed into something that looked like a Sims machinima: Did that make it funny? James’ “family” was also featured prominently in the (so-so) opening monologue to his (so-far) only stint hosting Saturday Night Live in 2007, but he fared much better on the show in a “Read to Achieve” sketch, where he plays Jason Sudeikis one-on-one, and in a mostly wordless performance as a Solid Gold dancer: That sketch in particular also showed James discovering the key to comedic success: Self-awareness.

He was not only acknowledging his public image – the bruising basketball star – he was turning it on its ear, playing it up for laughs (Dwight Howard is incapable of doing this). Of course, following the imbroglio of “The Decision,” James tamped down the levity a bit, maybe with a sense that any attempt at self-deprecation was going to come off as disingenuous or compensatory. It plays effectively off of both James’ decision to pursue the glamor of Miami in 2010 and the semi-provincial rah-rah-ing he did in announcing his return to Cleveland. The two other best bits are a running gag that he’s a cheapskate in spite of his wealth and when he twice tries to liken Conners’ relationship troubles to his own playing career, to which Conners replies that neither of those things are anything like his life.

On a Meta level, the latter joke cuts interestingly at the way fans and followers of sports often try to link their own struggles to the ritualistic, highly structured hurdles that teams have to conquer in a season. Cardale Jones of Ohio State also held the attention of the nation in the inaugural College Football Playoff by stepping in when the two quarterbacks in front of him went down. To that end, when LeBron is onscreen in Trainwreck, the film takes the opportunity to skewer some of our notions about pro athletes, and it’s largely successful – one ill-fitting scene with cameos from Chris Evert, Marv Albert and Matthew Broderick aside. The first half of the movie spends a decent amount of time getting us to invest in the relationship between Conners and James, but, as is typical for any rom-com, once the initial trepidation between Conners and Amy Townsend (Schumer) is overcome, something needs to get in the way in order for them to form a lasting relationship. The player who needs the surgery, though, is not LeBron James, which would have kept the story tight, contained and resonating back on itself in a classically balanced way.

He has the look of an unstoppable force going into the British Open and leads the PGA Tour in total strokes gained and scoring average, according to PGATour.com. Don’t give up hope just yet, Cleveland. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings.

Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

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