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Six-time NBA champ and arguable greatest basketball player of all time Michael Jordan actually received the medal, but in doing so, he got repeatedly clowned on by President Barack Obama, who made mention of Jordan’s status as the meme of weeping shame.
In his introduction to the ceremony, Obama joked that the medal honors “extraordinary Americans,” including “character actors … the guy from Space Jam.” Nice burn. And he wasn’t done.
“He’s more than just a logo, more than just an internet meme…” Obama said, to laughs, during his run-down of Jordan’s accomplishments.
And he is certainly more than a meme, but his meme status is undeniable. Younger generations have more experience with Michael Jordan’s tear-streaked face than with his dunks or NBA Finals victories.
So it’s appropriate and totally funny that, when Jordan stood to receive his medal, he cried.
Welp, there’s no chance the meme dies now. Jordan’s been cemented as a sobber in public. And even if Lebron James ends up taking the title of GOAT away from MJ, Crying Lebron will never erase Crying Jordan.
Real legends never die.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.