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Is Crying LeBron the perfect answer to Crying Jordan?

The new face of emotional victory.


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 20, 2016   Updated on May 22, 2024, 11:04 am CDT

Michael Jordan‘s crying face has become such a powerful shorthand for the agony of defeat—Photoshopped onto anyone who loses, fucks up, or gets sad—that it’s easy to forget he was the greatest NBA player of all time and a winner of six championships (and that he was crying at his 2009 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, not exactly a low moment). Could LeBron James‘ crying face as he won his own third finals become the meme that signifies the opposite—victory so glorious it brings one to tears? 

The image is certainly off to a good start after LeBron’s Cavaliers came back from a three-games-to-one deficit to beat Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors and cement a championship run on Sunday night.

But for Crying Lebron to become the newest “That Feel When,” it might have to be stripped of its original context—the greatest and most dramatic victory of LeBron’s career, his first championship for Cleveland. The strength of the Crying Jordan meme, according to some astute observers, is that no one even remembers why Jordan was crying.

The reason for LeBron’s tears is an historic one, in NBA terms, the kind of thing that gets replayed on ESPN for decades. 

But the only rule of memes is that the rules are always changing. What’s to stop the Crying LeBron face from representing a specific win and the general idea of elation at winning? Or even, like the Crying Jordan, a profound sadness?

Also, we get the feeling LeBron wouldn’t mind being a meme as much as Jordan allegedly does—he’s halfway there already.

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*First Published: Jun 20, 2016, 2:01 pm CDT