One part Hollywood, one part athletes, none of ESPN’s favored sons, lots of vodka and not enough veggies – the ESPYs social scene cocktail
Wednesday night’s ESPYs ended with Dr J and Carmelo Anthony anointing the Seattle Seahawks as the “Best Team” of the year, topping the Boston Red Sox, L.A. Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Florida State Football, and the undefeated 40-0 UCONN women’s basketball team.
An ESPN director in the truck then threw the UCONN women a buddy-pass with a reaction shot, showing them looking pissed at what I guess you would call their first “loss.”
Twenty-four hours earlier, there were no sad faces staring at Anthony. He was the king of another court, actually holding court at the center of an intimate dinner party at the Sunset Tower. At this one, Kelly Rowland was at his side.
Anthony said yes to the Knicks’ $124 million offer earlier this week, but gave a resounding “Hell no” when asked if he ever thought he would be a muse for an artist’s portrait at Tuesday night’s dinner.
Kehinde Wiley, the A-list modern artist who paints pop culture icons, revealed a portrait of the hoops star; part of Grey Goose’s modern “Kings of Culture” series. Even if Anthony found his framing to be a surprise in the macro sense, it was his friends and inner circle’s turn to be surprised on a micro level at the result.
Also read: ESPY Awards Winners: The Complete List
After Wiley told the crowd the portrait’s style was “18th and 19th century British and French portraiture” – cut to everyone racking their brains for faint memories of college art history classes – the fair assumption was that they were about to view a painting. The work (above) will evolve into a painting to be auctioned off at December’s Art Basel, but for now, the reveal of the composite photograph had several thinking, “That’s one hell of a painting”. I’m guilty of the same ignorance. It’s a picture.
For a guy who personifies the biggest city, ‘Melo keeps a small circle.
See photos: ESPY Awards Red Carpet Arrivals
The tight line up at the 30-person dinner included aforementioned Rowland (pregnant, showing, and sipping virgin versions of the four course cocktail menu), Beyonce’s mother Tina Knowles (who was inseparable from Rowland), Randy Jackson, CAA agent Ryan Tarpley, Wiley’s twin brother Tai, L.A. Clipper Matt Barnes, his “Basketball Wife” Gloria Govan, and U.S. Men’s National Team goal-scorer, and now soccer free agent, Jermaine Jones (in sequin sneakers).
Jones’ wife Sarah Gerth, a former Miss Germany, added to the glam. While WAGs (wives and girlfriends) are serialized in European tabloids, enterprising industry producers have yet to pitch “Soccer Wives” in the U.S.)
From the basketball world, “The Hoops Whisperer” Idan Ravin, a private basketball coach to a significant percentage of NBA all stars behind blacked out gym windows, and a commandeering presence in the form of “Worldwide Wes” a.k.a. “Uncle Wes.” Officially William Wesley, the mysterious but seemingly omnipresent sports figure has been called an elusive NBA power broker, an alleged funnel for young prospects to favored programs, and definitively the subject of an investigative GQ that asked “Is This the Most Powerful Man in Sports?“
On this night, West Hollywood Wes attempted to order a “Gran Marnier on the rocks” only to to be corrected by Anthony, sitting across from him, with an “Are you for real?” look. “This is a Grey Goose dinner,” Anthony corrected.
A Goose event it was, tied to the launch of the new Grey Goose Le Melon, made with a rare type of melon called the “fruit of kings.” Kehinde-collector Spike Lee and Swizz Beatz previously got the Le Melon and Wiley honors earlier this summer.
Mixologist Randy Evans assured everyone that the drinks spilling over the two-inch ice cubes came from “fresh coconuts just cracked hours ago.”
As the dinner cracked a few hours later, Carmelo thanked the remaining group for supporting him, Kehinde for painting him, and the conversation turned towards the official ESPY pre-party over in Hollywood.
Over at that party at Lure, SWV played for thirty minutes in the packed indoor-outdoor space for names like Dominique Wilkins, Lolo Jones, and none of ESPN’s favored sons (Tim Tebow, LeBron James. and Johnny Manziel, all of whom were AWOL on the scene all week.)
Despite the hardbodies in the building, and the naked ones in the pages of the ESPN “Body Issue” magazine, they were serving burgers. “It’s called ‘The Body’ party, one former NCAA athlete told me. “You’d think they’d be serving celery or carrots.”
Despite what Michael Jordan and his long-eared co-star from “Space Jam” might argue, the long orange dirt veggie was not part of the ESPY cocktail.