While tonight is the one day that seems to come where absolutely ZERO sporting events are happening, that doesn’t mean that fans can’t get their sports fill.
That’s because, thanks to the ESPY Awards hosted by Joel McHale tonight, we’ll be able to relive the best moments in athletics from the past year, no doubt leaving us with some great memories.
With McHale taking center stage, reeling off jokes and recapping an epic sports year, one question remains—how will the comedian/actor do?
With the awards entering their 23rd year now, we didn’t want to just rank each performance by every host—that’s too boring—so we’ve decided to mix it up and give you the defining moment of each and every ESPY host ever.
Norm Macdonald – 1998
Over the course of his career, comedian Norm Macdonald has made a damn living pissing people off. Hell, the dude’s most successful movies was entitled Dirty Work, so that should say everything you need to know about how his hosting the ESPY Awards would go.
After making a name for himself on Saturday Night Live during the mid- to late-’90s, Macdonald was chosen to perform his off-color comedy for the sports world—and his opening monologue is about as incredible as expected, with everyone in attendance looking about as uncomfortable as someone who just farted at the dinner table.
Samuel L. Jackson – 1999, 2001, 2002, 2009
The only person to have hosted the ESPY Awards more than just twice, totaling four times all-together, actor Samuel L. Jackson has had more than just a few hilarious sketches.
However, my personal favorite has to be when he reprised his role as Jedi Master Mace Windu from the movie Star Wars in 1999, where he is seen trying to teach a young Derek Jeter how to play baseball.
Seeing as how DJ went on to become a New York Yankees legend and will be a surefire Hall of Famer in a few years, it looks like Windu knew what the hell he was doing with The Captain.
Jamie Foxx – 2003, 2004
One of the most talented performers of the past 25 years, actor, musician and comedian Jamie Foxx killed it during his two years as ESPY host in 2003 and 2004.
His shining moments came when he put on display the pipes that helped him land the role as Ray Charles in the movie Ray in 2004, serenading 21-time Grand Slam Singles champ Serena Williams with a song entitled, “Can I Be Your Tennis Ball?”
As if the one-time performance wasn’t enough, Foxx returned to a more extravagant presentation in 2004, with backup singers and hilarious props.
Matthew Perry – 2005
It might have been an odd choice to nab actor Matthew Perry has host in 2005—which was about a decade after he was at his most popular. But that didn’t mean the dude couldn’t hold his own.
There were a few moments that earned a smirk or two, but, without a doubt, Perry pretending to be cast in the movie Friday Night Lights was the best, with him in the locker room and being that annoying dude who no one wanted as a teammate.
I mean, does any guy really need to be told to think about booby?
Lance Armstrong – 2006
Although the best moment, that I remember, from Lance Armstrong’s night of hosting the 2006 ESPYs was his joke about “giving his left nut” to secure the gig, unfortunately, I just couldn’t find the video—come on, Internet, how doesn’t that make the cyber world?
The next best thing, though? How about Armstrong acting like, well, a total asshole to Rainn Wilson, who plays the role of Lance’s assistant leading up to the ESPYs.
Conceded, cocky, undermining others, Armstrong seemed to play this part perfectly—considering it’s what he did during his entire cycling career.
Nicely played by both ESPN and Armstrong for actually doing something like this.
LeBron James & Jimmy Kimmel – 2007
Coming off of a season in which he made his first of, now six, NBA Finals appearances, LeBron James seemed to be in a pretty good mood—even after his Cleveland Cavaliers got swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Experimenting with having two hosts for the first time in ESPY history, James was actually the one who stole the show away from late-night host, Jimmy Kimmel, as his rendition of Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” had everyone in stitches, as the King danced and sung his way into everyone’s memories.
Justin Timberlake – 2008
If there was one celebrity who was made to host an awards show, it’s Justin Timberlake.
Getting the chance to do so in 2008, J-Timbo did what everyone probably thought he would do—just kill it—as the big-time sports fan and talented performer took center stage and delivered in a big way.
Showing his versatility, Timberlake took famous clips and events from 2008 and put himself right in the middle of them all, creating one of the most creatively funny skits in ESPY history.
Seth Meyers – 2010, 2011
Man, who knew that being Dirk Nowitzki could be so, damn difficult?
While the big German has made 13 NBA All-Star Games and has won a title in his 17-year career, he hasn’t exactly been recognized for being the best athlete around.
So when host Seth Meyers and then SNL cast-member BIll Hader showed what a basketball camp with Dirk might consist of—as the two dressed up as cousins of Nowitzki—it was pretty spot-on.
Rob Riggle – 2012
Rob Riggle is one funny dude, so when he was picked to host the 2012 ESPY Awards, fans were hoping he would bring some of his humor to the show.
He did that with a few skits, with some self-deprecating cracks by NBA stars Blake Griffin and Kevin Love, and then the comedian’s funniest moment—his pep talk to the U.S. Olympic team prior to them heading to London.
Acting like the most American dude ever, Riggle’s speech may not have inspired many of the red, white and blue to perform any better, but it did provide some solid laughs.
Jon Hamm – 2013
During his opening monologue, actor Jon Hamm talked about how happy he was to be in Los Angeles and hosting the ESPYs—but not without throwing in some major heat on former L.A. Lakers center Dwight Howard.
After Howard decided to split from Tinseltown for the Houston Rockets in free agency that summer, Hamm delivered an ice cold diss at D12, pretending to show the best moments of the center as a Laker, with nothing actually playing.
The joke was well-received by the crowd, who couldn’t help but laugh at how real shit just got.
Drake – 2014
Who knew that rapper Drake had such charisma, huh?
Hosting the ESPY Awards in 2014, the Toronto native sure did seem to have a good time on the biggest awards night in sports, holding his own in a variety of skits and sketches.
From his poking fun at boxer Manny Pacquiao’s love for singing—in which he dressed up as the fighter and belted out the theme song from the movie Frozen—to some solid jokes, Drake actually killed it.
Without a doubt, though, the skit that pinned Drake versus NBA star Blake Griffin was the best, as they competed against one another for the spotlight in a fictional film.