Samuel L. Jackson paused the Oscars to tell Spike Lee that the Knicks had finally won a home game
While the presenting at award shows normally seems like a breeze for the trained performers who take the stage, there's a lot of pressure to get it right. Even as a big-time actor, it must be incredibly nerve-wracking the first time you take to the podium to announce nominees and open the golden envelope, but for some this is just old hat.
Samuel L. Jackson is one of the most popular and prolific actors in Hollywood, and the no-nonsense attitude he embodies on screen is often reflected in real life. So, even when presenting one of the most prestigious awards of the evening this Sunday, he had the confidence to take a moment to give his friend a sports update.
That friend is Spike Lee, who, after missing out on Best Original Screenplay for his 1990 classic Do the Right Thing, was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay - the same award that Jackson was presenting alongside Brie Larson. Jackson has worked with Lee before numerous times - and he rightly knows that the director is just about the biggest New York Knicks fan out there.
The team have had a terrible season so far, setting a franchise record with 18 consecutive home losses before their game on Sunday night - the same night as the Oscars ceremony. However, they ended up pulling off an unlikely win over the Spurs 130-118 that night - a game that Lee missed out on to be in Los Angeles for the show.
So, Jackson made sure to let him know the good news - before he even got a chance to introduce the award.
It only got better when the award he was presenting ended up going to Lee, for his film BlacKkKlansman, which was also up for Best Picture and Best Director. And, to the actor's delight, he got to hand over the award - announcing the winners with his best Michael Buffer voice:
Then, when he arrived on stage, Lee literally leapt into Jackson's arms in celebration:
In his acceptance speech, Lee spoke about Jamestown, Virginia, where his ancestors were forcibly brought from the African content to join the American slave trade, and traced his story back to his grandmother - who saved her social security checks and used them to send him to New York University, where he studied film.
Finally, he concluded his speech with a call to action for his fellow Americans:
“Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors, who helped build this country. If we all connect with our ancestors, we will have love and wisdom regained. We will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment. The 2020 presidential election is around the corner.
"Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do that right thing!”
Winning an Oscar after years in the industry must mean a lot, but it must be even better when it's given to you by a friend.