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NBA Meme Bracket Day 4: Justice for the Jimmy Butler Dunk Face

The George Mason of the tournament—Jimmy Butler’s reaction to a Doug McDermott dunk—goes down, and favorites like Crying Jordan and Confused Nick Young ready themselves for the Elite Eight

Arturo Torres

Voting for Day 4 is now closed. Vote for your favorite memes in the Final Four here:

Three rounds of voting are in the books, and I am faced with a reckoning. Sometimes you put your faith in people, in hopes that they’ll do the right thing. But I’ve been let down, and now I am stuck with the fact that after nearly 2 million votes cast, there are eight dank NBA memes remaining, and Jimmy Butler Dunk Face is not one of them.

As Director of Bracket Operations at the Meme Commission Athletics Association, I’ve helped oversee 56 different matchups so far. Each meme is a feat of internet brilliance, and a look into the soul of NBA Twitter. Day 1 of the bracket taught us that people actually might still just straight up hate the Lakers (RIP, Lakers Chain Guy and Sunglasses Guy GIFs. You deserved better). Day 2 doubled down on that sentiment, with Extremely Online sleuths debating the long-held belief that Kobe Bryant never once backed down from anyone, especially Matt Barnes. And now, on Day 3, we’ve learned that voters are unable to identify greatness.

Jimmy Butler Dunk Face is a near-perfect GIF, unfairly seeded 10th in the West Division by MCAA commissioner and meme messiah Jason Concepcion. Look at the stare that Butler, immaculately clothed, and even then holding immense trade-related power, gifts us after Doug McDermott throws down a poster dunk. Look how his eyes dart back and forth, as if to ask “Did that just happen? Did you just see that?” Jimmy is at his suavest, wearing a pink blazer over a pink shirt, with a gold chain draped around his neck. I have used this reaction GIF in at least four text threads this month, and in Slack to multiple coworkers. It is the pinnacle of “Oh my god that was dope” memes. And yet it lost.

Our tournament’s George Mason was matched up with the West Division’s no. 6 seed, Pop Thumbs-Up, and fell, 52-48 percent. It was the closest showdown of the day, and surely the most heartbreaking. Pop now faces tournament favorite and division no. 1 seed Harden Side-eye in the Elite Eight. It will likely lose. Were there any justice in the world, Jimmy and his Dunk Face would have moved on. Instead we’re left with a final eight memes, all seeded sixth or higher.

Maybe the final three rounds of voting will deliver a savior. Maybe Alonzo Mourning Acceptance will upset a trio of no. 1 seeds en route to the title. Maybe Nick Young Missed 3—a masterful example of shooting-your-shot gone wrong—will claim victory. Or maybe Crying Jordan, the meme that started it all, will run over any challenge it faces. Polls are now open for the Elite Eight.

Do the right thing. Avenge Jimmy, you monsters.

Elite Eight

(1) Crying Jordan vs. (2) Alonzo Mourning Acceptance

1. Crying Jordan: The clear favorite. The Kentucky of this tournament. Crying Jordan is simply iconic. The universal shorthand for defeat in the social media age.

2. Alonzo Mourning Acceptance: Logging on to Twitter these days is like staring into a sandstorm. Bad news; horrifying news; vaguely troubling news that’s important, but that will become clear only when it’s too late to do anything about it. What to do? How, as thinking and feeling human beings, can we survive this maelstrom with our sanity and sense of self intact? One way is by accepting that there are things beyond our control. And if they negatively affect our sense of self-worth, then simply let them go. That’s what Miami Heat legend Alonzo Mourning is doing as he transitions from sullen, smoldering fury to head-shaking impotence and finally to acceptance.


Which Meme Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    (1) Crying Jordan
    (6631 votes)
  • 59%
    (2) Alonzo Mourning Acceptance
    (9696 votes)
16327 votes total Vote Now

(1) Squinting J.R. Smith vs. (2) Nick Young Missed 3

1. Squinting J.R. Smith: This meme captures the dazed essence of J.R. Smith. Over the course of his 14-year (!!!!) career, which spans four teams, four Finals appearances, and one title, Smith has crafted a bacchanalian aura. The origins of his conceptual link with the cognac brand Hennessy, which he says he does not drink, are obscure but the reasons are plain. Smith is just a wild dude whose play oftentimes seemed influenced by high-level nightlife. He is a career 42 percent shooter who shot 39 percent on Sundays. Which, as I once wrote, “I’m guessing has something to do with Sunday coming after Friday and Saturday and those games taking place relatively early in the day.” In 2013, when J.R. was a member of the New York Knicks, Rihanna blew him up on Instagram, claiming the guard’s poor postseason play was because “his ass be hungover from clubbing every night during playoffs!!” Two games later, Smith shot 27 percent, and the Knicks fell to the Indiana Pacers in six games. The next season, he was fined $50,000 for untying players’ shoelaces. He untied Shawn Marion’s shoe, was warned by the NBA not to do that, then turned around and untied Greg Monroe’s shoe a few days later. Following the Cavaliers’ 2016 Finals win against the Warriors, Smith went several days without wearing a shirt. In the closing moments of regulation of Game 1 of the 2018 Finals, again versus the Warriors, he famously tried to dribble out the clock thinking the Cavs were up. The game was tied. J.R. Smith did not know the score of the NBA Finals game that he was playing in. Simply remarkable stuff.

2. Nick Young Missed 3: It ain’t over till it’s over; don’t count your chickens before they hatch, and definitely don’t turn around and raise your arms to celebrate a 3-pointer before confirming that the ball did indeed go in the basket.


Which Meme Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    (1) Squinting J.R. Smith
    (3848 votes)
  • 76%
    (2) Nick Young Missed 3
    (12529 votes)
16377 votes total Vote Now

(1) Confused Nick Young vs. (6) Lance Blowing in LeBron’s Ear

1. Confused Nick Young: Nick Young has been called a clown by many people. Perhaps thousands of people. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. Among them: his mother. In the fourth episode of Cassy Athena’s web series Thru the Lens, which focused on a day in the life of Nick Young, his mom, Mae, recounted how, as a youngster, her son used to ball with older players including a former member of the Lakers. These more experienced players, she said, would tell her that if Nick ever got serious, he could “be great.” “But,” she continues, “he was a clown then.” Cue Confused Nick Young face.

6. Lance Blowing in LeBron’s Ear: Lance’s most notable and relevant contribution is trying and failing to get into LeBron’s head. In this instance, by blowing air into his ear canal. I have yet to process that they are actually teammates.


Which Meme Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    (1) Confused Nick Young
    (9200 votes)
  • 43%
    (6) Lance Blowing in LeBron’s Ear
    (7198 votes)
16398 votes total Vote Now

(1) Harden Side-eye vs. (6) Pop Thumbs-Up

1. Harden Side-eye: Nothing speaks to the power of NBA memes like the rise of the postgame, on-court interview. This is fluff, a literal afterthought. But in the hands of our basketball content generators, even the most benign question is coal for the furnace. Behold, the Beard, and the side-eye.

6. Pop Thumbs-Up: Gregg Popovich is an underrated troll. In Game 5 of the Spurs’ 2008 first-round series win against the Suns, Pop mercilessly deployed the Hack-a-Shaq on its titular target. O’Neal shot 9-for-20 from the line. Shaq decried the strategy as cowardly. A mere five seconds into the first game of the following season, Pop had ex-Sun Michael Finley wrap up O’Neal. When Shaq, muttering curses, gazed over at the Spurs bench, he saw this GIF.


Which Meme Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    (1) Harden Side-eye
    (12144 votes)
  • 25%
    (6) Pop Thumbs-Up
    (4238 votes)
16382 votes total Vote Now
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