Michael Jordan is known as one of the best basketball players of all time, as well as one of the best-marketed athletes ever.
Crying Jordan: The Origins
In 2009, we all got a more intimate look at the man behind the legend.
On September 11th, 2009, while delivering a speech at his Hall of Fame induction, the all-star got pretty emotional telling stories from his career and fatefully, AP photographer Stephen Savoia got the image.
Little did either of them know at the time that this moment would not only be one in which Jordan got to tell some old stories, but also begin a new one.
Rise to Online Infamy
In April 2012, a few years after the Hall of Fame speech, Stephen Savoia’s photo was posted to
the image-sharing site MemeCrunch. Titled “Sad Michael Jordan,” it was captioned, “Why did I buy the Bobcats?”
This was a reference to the Charlotte Bobcats, an NBA team that Jordan owned at the time who were about to finish the season with the worst record of any NBA team ever: seven wins and a whopping 59 losses for the season.
Funny enough to catch the attention of basketball fans and the Internet over, Sad Michael Jordan threads began appearing all over forums for The Coli, Nike and more. In March 2015, a new Tumblr blog entitled MJ Sad Faces was launched, providing a slightly more central place where more general meme fans could trip over it.
At this point, the meme’s popularity began to spread, eventually getting written about on entertainment news sites like the Daily Dot, VICE Sports, and Huffington Post, which in October of that year even went so far as to release a printable paper mask of the meme a couple of weeks ahead of Halloween:
The Cultural Impact of Crying Jordan
Crying Jordan has been used as sometimes joking, sometimes mocking commentary on just about every story you can think of with a sad side: from the ending of Game of Thrones, to deflate-gate, to Brexit, it’s become so widely known that even Barack Obama made a reference to it in his 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom speech.
In May 2020, when ESPN’s The Last Dance first aired, Jordan became a second meme.
Earlier that year, he appeared to be coming to terms with all of this when, at a memorial tribute to the recently deceased Kobe Bryant, he teared up giving a speech, yet again.
The sad Michael Jordan meme is not a dunk on the MVP himself. We are all human beings, but when life hits us hard, sometimes it’s the best we can do to shed a tear or share a meme.