At the ESPYs red carpet, it's a mix of bling, sweat and cheers

Maria Sharapova, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova poses with boxing star Floyd Mayweather Jr. backstage during the ESPYs at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday. (Christopher Polk / Getty Images For ESPYS / July 16, 2014)

So much of life is plain ugly (cell towers made to look like trees) or vaporous (Masahiro Tanaka's elbow, or that little Italian village I just purchased on eBay).

But then you run across something genuine and serene. Yes, it's the ESPYs I'm talking about.

I'd rather pass a gallstone than wear a full suit in 90-degree heat, yet here I am on the red carpet at ESPN's annual awards show Wednesday night at the Nokia Theatre.

Look, there goes Russell Westbrook in baby blue pajama tops.

Over there, Marcedes Lewis is wearing a kilt/skirt/pantaloon combo (no, you can't get these at Target).

And here comes Kevin Durant in a shade of green usually found only in Jell-O or chem labs. Hey Kev, were they out of cheetah?

The 49ers' Stevie Johnson is wearing glitter shoes and so many necklaces it looks like chain mail.

At the ESPYs, bling is the new black.

When did athletes start dressing like Elton John and Lady Gaga? And what would Ted Williams say?

Oh. there's Russell Wilson in a tie and conservative dark suit. What does he think he is, an adult?

Pay attention, Joan Rivers, and I'll show you how to handle a real red carpet.

Me: "Who are you wearing?"

Jermaine Jones: "John Ford."

Me, I'm wearing Chevy.

First impressions? This red carpet is moving slower than an Idina Menzel national anthem.

If you've never been, what happens on these red carpets is this: The participants step directly off their MTA bus -- or whatever they drive -- and enter a tent, where security wands them. The ones who don't pass get to go down the red carpet.

Soon, they pipeline into a crush of stars and publicists and are wearing a sheen seen only in Turtle Wax commercials. Along the way, they stop at various booths, where TV types (who strangely never sweat) ask them about their clothes, careers and upcoming movies.

Then they stop for more photos and interviews. The ones who don't pass out in a puddle of their own gravy are allowed into the Nokia for the show.

A red carpet in July is much like the two-a-days you used to have in high school. Not everybody makes it. Women have given birth in the time it takes to walk this gauntlet.

An hour in, I look like the night manager at an iHop in Short Pump, Va. Maria Sharapova either sneaked by me or melted directly into the ESPYs red carpet.

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