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Backstage buzz at the ESPYs staff

Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson and Snoop Dogg pose together at The ESPYs.
LOS ANGELES -- Hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg came backstage with his crew, looking sweet in a Lakers 3-peat jersey and carrying an ESPY Awards poster.

"Where's Kobe? Where's the champ?" he said.

The Lakers' guard, who's pictured on the poster along with Samuel L. Jackson, was just coming out of the press room, bursting flashbulbs trailing him all the way.

"Champ!" Snoop called out. "Champ! Sign this for my kids."

Kobe smiled and sauntered over toward Snoop and his entourage. They hugged and greeted each other like old friends.

"Let's get a picture," Snoop said. "I'm gonna hold the poster out in front like this. Can you get us all in?" he asked his friend with the camera. "Get it all in, you know what I'm saying. I want all of it."

The coolest thing about the ESPY Awards isn't seeing all the stars and athletes. It's seeing all the stars and athletes behaving like fans. As Kobe headed for the door, Snoop started looking around for Sam Jackson.

"Got to get Sam to sign it too," he said.

A kid in a candy store
A very chatty Tom Sizemore entertained the press corps by rambling on with five-minute answers to the two questions he was able to tackle during his allotted time. The actor had just finished a 'what-was-cool-about-sports-in-the-'80s' diatribe in which he named everything under the sun and started to exit the interview platform when he ran smack into hockey star Wayne Gretzky, who owned the NHL in the '80s and was not named by Sizemore.

An embarrassed Sizemore dashed back on stage to grab the mic away from Gretzky and started rambling again ..."I never learned to skate, I never learned to skate."

When Sizemore finally left, a stunned Gretzky said, "That was rather interesting."

The room erupted with laughter, which continued when Gretzky answered his first question (Did you ever want to be an actor?) with "I'm probably the only athlete in LA who never wanted to be an actor."

The Great One continued to cut up by saying the show tonight made him angry. It seems he and actor Dennis Quaid belong to the same golf club. "It really kind of ticks me off," he said, that Quaid (who won tonight for "The Rookie") now has an ESPY Award "and I don't."

Meanwhile, Sizemore made his way outside the press room to chat with Kobe Bryant. He gave the young Lakers star a firm handshake and leaned in close to say how much he admired what he and the Lakers had done. "You are so professional, so focused, so committed," he said. "I'm so inspired by what you guys have done."

Kobe seemed genuinely touched. "Some days, you know, it's just hard to get up in the morning and work hard and practice as hard as you have to. And when you hear that you inspire other people, that makes it all worthwhile."

Bathroom humor
Monday Night Football's John Madden hit the press room with ESPN's Chris Berman. The duo had presented ESPY awards together and were now tackling questions backstage. For the most part, Madden was letting Berman field the majority of questions.
Brooke Shields
Find out why John Madden was embarassed to be around Brooke Shields.

The veteran announcer lit up like a Christmas Tree, however, when he saw Brooke Shields enter the room. Madden grabbed the mic and voluntarily told the crowd of reporters how he had come out of the bathroom earlier in the night to find Shields waiting next in line. Madden said one thought immediately entered his mind.

"I remembered I had left the seat up and I felt awful," he said with a smile.

Shields took it all in stride, however, assuring Madden it was no big deal.

"My husband does it all the time," she said.

Boxers know the value of good security
In the moments before the show, it's a crowded, chaotic scene. Talent wranglers are hurrying folks in and out of interviews, stars are scurrying to their seats. There are two notable exceptions tonight, though: Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

The two former champs (who came in separately) each took time out on their way in to shake hands and pose for pictures with members of the Kodak Theater security staff. It's a little thing, but it's classy, and it makes a world of difference to the folks working the doors.

Nude shower scenes never pay
On a night like this, everybody's thinking about the highlights of the year and reflecting on the best moments of their careers.

Sometimes, though, the memories aren't so sweet.

We asked NYPD Blue star Dennis Franz to think back to a moment he sorta kinda wishes never happened.

"I might rethink that nude shower scene," he said, half laughing and half cringing.

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