The art in performing standup comedy first involves knowing your audience.
So with “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm hosting the 2013 ESPY Awards Wednesday night at Nokia Theatre, he addressed something that’s surely annoyed the Lakers in the past week.
“It’s great to be here in L.A., although not everyone feels that way,” Hamm said, and you knew what he’d say next. “Dwight Howard recently announced he was leaving the Lakers.”
Before Hamm could even complete his sentence, boos serenaded the building. Much like the same way when Laker fans shouted them Howard when earned an ejection in the Lakers’ Game 4 loss to San Antonio at Staples Center in what marked his last game wearing a purple and gold uniform.
“He’s leaving the Lakers to play for the Houston Rockets,” Hamm said. “He’s leaving LA. So, um, I guess he finally found a way to help the Lakers win.”
Hamm wasn’t finished.
“We thought it would be nice to honor Howard by taking a look at his greatest moments as a Laker,” Hamm said. “So lets roll it.”
The reel didn’t show Howard playing through back surgery, posting a league-leading 12.4 rebounds, making his memorable block that ensured a regular-season win over the New Orleans Hornets or throwing down lobs from Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol. Instead, ESPN cameras panned away from Hamm on the jumbo screen before “Simply the Best” blared out of the loudspeakers. It was then abruptly cut off without any highlights whatsoever.
Hamm wore a bemused expression on his face. Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade shifted forward out of his chair and laughed hysterically. Heat forward LeBron James smiled too, possibly because he’s won two consecutive NBA championships and he’s no longer the league’s biggest villian.
As the ESPYS made perfectly clear, that role belongs to Howard.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org