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NBA Meme Bracket, Day 5: Down Goes Crying Jordan

The tournament’s no. 1 overall seed—one of the defining memes of the internet era—is out. If only we could get a Michael Jordan speech to capture the moment.

Arturo Torres

A titan falls. It is entirely right and good that Crying Jordan, the most famous NBA meme, the universal internet symbol for defeat, should suffer that which it communicates. And not even in the finals. Not even the semifinals! Today, due to people on the internet exercising their democratic rights, Alonzo Mourning Acceptance has handily swept aside Crying Jordan to advance to the Final Four. The possibility that Crying Jordan might now itself be Crying Jordan-ed, creating a kind of ouroboros of defeat, a Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man of losing, is incredibly meta to consider. This is the first big win for Zo against Jordan since 1997, when Mourning guaranteed victory and led the Heat to a Game 4 win in their Eastern Conference finals matchup with the Bulls before falling in five games.

Rumblings of Crying Jordan’s eventual defeat could be felt throughout the timeline Wednesday evening. “I gotta go Zo with this one,” tweeted Twitter user Lunch Breaks From the Crypt at me after I posted the Elite Eight matchups. “That gif just says so much about the human existence.” Agreed.

Fatigue certainly played a role. CJ has been the dominant NBA meme for several years now and, just as with Jordan’s on-court hegemony, people are pretty fucking tired of it. A small, but thoughtful minority of voters went for Zo on the grounds that CJ is inherently unkind. “I’ve always thought Crying Jordan is ultimately pretty mean in subtext and application,” Terry Roziest said. To be fair, I agree that the meme is mean, but also think that’s kind of what makes it great.

Some argued that the source of the image fatally undercut the meme’s meaning. According to this line of thinking, the fact the Jordan was crying “tears of joy” at his Hall of Fame induction makes the meme itself invalid, and therefore less worthy and less powerful. This is incorrect. A meme’s meaning is wholly independent of its real-world context. It doesn’t matter in the least if Jordan was happy when the picture was taken; he still looks fucking washed.

Still others believe that CJ is like a graduate degree. “Crying Jordan is fantastically overrated,” tweeted the legendary Howard Beck. Disagree there, Howard. Crying Jordan is a giant. Let’s not besmirch Alonzo’s epic achievement in taking him down.

On to the Final Four!

Final Four

(2) Alonzo Mourning Acceptance vs. (2) Nick Young Missed 3

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 mental health 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.

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

  • 60%
    (2) Alonzo Mourning Acceptance
    (5309 votes)
  • 39%
    (2) Nick Young Missed 3
    (3486 votes)
8795 votes total Vote Now

(1) Confused Nick Young vs. (1) Harden Side-eye

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.

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.


Which Meme Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    (1) Confused Nick Young
    (3974 votes)
  • 54%
    (1) Harden Side-eye
    (4832 votes)
8806 votes total Vote Now
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