We once knew MJ as the greatest basketball player ever. Now, we also know him as something else.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
-some dude whose face the internet endlessly digitally imposes over the faces of losers
For as much as we know about viruses, they still largely remain an enigma. The greatest scientific minds in humanity’s history have only been able to speculate and hypothesize on how viruses originate and haven’t been able to even reach a clear consensus on if viruses qualify as living organisms or not. However, while we can only theorize on the origin and vitality of viruses, we have an extremely comprehensive understanding of how viruses are transmitted and spread.
Viruses cannot multiply without attaching themselves to a living, thriving cell. The exact same is true for trends on social media. Most viral sensations have the lifespan of the common cold, but the seemingly eternal ones have tapped into and latched onto something that resonates within us.
This is why Crying MJ is one of the most enduring memes we have ever seen. The Crying MJ meme never gets old because schadenfreude is everlasting. It is a universal language.
For instance, there’s a very high chance that if you show a Youtube clip of someone busting their ass and falling down an escalator to a seven year old American and a 77-year-old Lithuanian, they will both laugh. Laughing at the misfortune of others is a force that sustains and unifies us all. We did not create a new lane for the Crying MJ meme. The Crying MJ meme filled a void in our consciousness. We needed the Crying MJ meme long before we actually got it.
A newspaper actually used Crying Jordan for the pic pic.twitter.com/c3XLrvVdIL
— All Def Digital (@AllDefDigital) July 27, 2016
Friday is Michael Jordan’s 54th birthday. Friday also kicks off NBA All-Star Weekend, the event that gave us arguably the most iconic still photograph of Jordan’s career. To a vast majority, he remains the very embodiment of success who exists beyond reproach.
But the internet doesn’t give a damn about that whole “beyond reproach” thing, especially if someone happens to be a jerk. And over the years, MJ definitely methodically revealed to us that he was one.
Time, like MJ’s big ass Jack Sparrow hoop earrings that are big enough for a small child to hula hoop in and look like those big ass rings magicians do tricks with, is a flat circle. While the 1988 Dunk Contest displayed to many how remarkably talented he was, Jordan judging the 2007 Dunk Contest displayed to many how big of a prick he was. This slow hater reveal culminated in his 2009 Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, which gave us the photo that turned into the meme of all memes.
Here’s a rundown of some of the instances that resulted in Jordan’s ascension (or descension) into immortal memedom.
Jordan’s stint with the Wizards
Three years after the Finals clincher over Bryon Russell, MJ decided to shit all over his storybook ending to his phenomenal Bulls career and return to the NBA. MJ’s last shot of his career could have been a championship clincher on the road but when the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with Popeye Jones and chase 37 wins presents itself, then dammit you suit up and chase 37 wins with Popeye Jones.
Some view MJ’s return as a testament to his insatiable competitiveness. I saw a dude floundering at an office gig he took because he’d run away from basketball only to concede the possibility that basketball was the one thing he’s really great at and needed a way back in. Know how when you create a player on 2K and his attributes are all related? The higher you make one attribute, the lower the other ones drop? I think when God created Michael Jordan, God put his basketball attribute on 100 and left everything else on 0.
Granted, his average of 21-6-5 during his stint in Washington was amazing for a 40-year-old with no knees, but MJ was always evaluated on his own curve. This was the first time where he failed to meet people’s expectations. This was the pivotal moment where MJ ceased being Teflon in a lot of people’s eyes.
There’s also the matter of Kwame Brown. There are accounts of MJ keeping Kwame after practice to play him one-on-one. MJ would berate and demoralize Kwame during these sessions, pushing him to the brink of tears and going so far as to call Kwame a “flaming [homophobic slur]”. These asshole motivational tactics might have worked on a 30-year-old Steve Kerr, but a 40-year-old pulling this shit on a kid six months out of high school is about as lame as MJ’s 96 x 88 distressed denim jeans. I don’t know what type of shit Jordan was on, but just because he looks like Duke from Rocky doesn’t mean he had to act like him.
Jordan’s stint with the Wizards and his NBA career would come to an end in a road game at Staples. Kobe sent his idol off in to that sweet goodnight with 55 points. Kobe was wearing the Jordan 8’s.
High school senior LeBron James was quoted as saying “There’s a new sheriff in town” after viewing that game.
Jordan judges the 2007 Slam Dunk Contest
“Michael done lost his damn mind. He’s the Russian judge” Charles Barkley exclaimed after Jordan handed out his fourth 8 of the night.
Jordan judging this dunk contest was one of the greatest moments in hater history. MJ showed up wearing a black turtleneck under a black leather jacket with a black hoop earring. He came to the dunk contest dressed like a Highlander because he probably thought he would have to engage in a battle to the death with the winner. There can only be one. Like the single, lone 10 that he awarded out of all the dunks that he saw that night.
We’re all familiar with this phenomenal display of narcissism and axe grinding the likes of which we’ve never seen before at Springfield. Besides being the photo op that gave us the actual crying MJ meme, this was when a lot of people realized how much of an asshole the greatest basketball player of all time is.
Here’s a list of the casualties.
- On Jerry Reinsdorf, Bulls owner: “I got to the Bulls and I was very proud that at the time Jerry didn’t own the team.”
- On Jerry Krause, Bulls GM: “Jerry couldn’t be here. I don’t know who invited him. I didn’t.”
- On Leroy Smith, the player who made varsity over him in 10th grade: “Leroy’s here tonight. He’s still the same 6’7 guy. He’s not any bigger. His game is about the same.” MJ invited the guy who made varsity over him 30 years ago to his Hall of Fame induction just to tell him he still plays basketball like a 16-year-old.
- To Pat Riley on Jeff Van Gundy’s tenure as NY’s coach: “You had that little guy on your staff who became the coach after you.”
- On Bryon Russell, Jazz guard: “When I was retired, Bryon told me he could guard me. You remember that, John?” He asked this to John Stockton. It was Stockton’s induction night also. It was also Jerry Sloan’s. MJ also kept pronouncing Bryon like Byron.
- To his children: “You guys have a heavy burden. I wouldn’t want to be you if I had to because of all the expectations you have to deal with. I mean look around you. They’re charging thousand dollar tickets for this thing. It used to be 200 bucks.”
Jordan sues a grocery store over $4 in redeemed coupons using his likeness
Jordan’s Hall of Fame wrath didn’t end there, however. A Chicago-based grocery chain, Dominick’s, ran ads congratulating him on his induction and used his likeness (not even his face — just a Bulls 23 and a Jumpman logo that looked like a dude swatting a mosquito with a rolled up newspaper) to offer $2 off steaks at their locations. Jordan’s response? He sued the shit out of them. To the tune of $8.9 million.
Only two of these coupons were redeemed so there’s some people out there who ate a couple of $4.5 million steaks. MJ was quoted as saying “This shows I will protect my name to the fullest. It’s my name and I worked hard for it and I’m not just going to let someone take it.”
I get that. But come on. We all know this about MJ being damned if you motherf*ckers think you’re going to eat some steaks off his name. You must think he’s Byron-I mean Bryon Russell or something.
Golf beef with President Obama
Speaking of beef (please don’t sue me for $8.9M for that awful segue. I’m sorry) there was the time when MJ started a back and forth over golf with our then-president, Barack Obama. Golf beef!
In an interview with Ahmad Rashad, Rashad asked Jordan what his dream foursome would be.
Jordan: “I never played with Obama, but I would. But naw, that’s okay. I’d take him out. He’s a hack. It’d be all day playing with him.”
Rashad: “Do you really want to say that? That the President of the United States is a hack?”
Jordan: “I never said he wasn’t a great politician. I just said he was a shitty golfer.”
Obama went on to reply: “I think Michael is misinformed. But there is no doubt that Michael is a better golfer than I am. Of course if I was playing twice a day for the last 15 years, then that might not be the case. He might want to spend more time thinking about the Bobcats — or the Hornets.”
More golf beef with Keegan Bradley
MJ took over the Hornets’ twitter account and was doing the standard hum drum hashtag question and answer sessions that is the routine when these things go down. And then professional golfer Keegan Bradley talked shit.
— Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) October 28, 2014
MJ then took a break from his goodwill PR campaign to let Keegan Bradley know that he had him fucked up out here.
.@Keegan_Bradley Last time I looked, you were wearing MY shoes. You don’t see me wearing Air Keegans…
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) October 28, 2014
Score one for Young Louis Gossett Jr. Face here.
Jordan goes peak #WellActually at his summer camp
At Jordan’s basketball camp a few summers back, some brave teenage soul mustered up the courage to ask the athlete with the most iconic sneaker line of all time “WHAAAATTTTT ARE THOOOOOSSSEEEE”. MJ the proceeded to go an amalgamation of peak dad and peak #WellActually by actually answering the kid’s question and telling him what Jordans he was wearing.
We are all aware of the adage “never meet your heroes”. Mystique is essential to idolatry. The more insight we got into Michael Jordan’s asshole ways, the less blasphemous it became to make him a punchline.
Meeting your heroes can prove to be a disastrous let down.
Just ask Byron — I mean Bryon Russell.