Michael Jordan always manages to be the GOAT—of basketball, of memes. The man is king.
As such, it seems unlikely the "Crying Jordan" meme will go away on its own. But, hypothetically, if something were to happen to the beloved meme (gasp!), what could replace it as sports' go-to image for anguish and despair?
Of course, no ordinary facial expression can take over for Crying Jordan. First, the image has to depict a literal face, easily placed digitally over other faces.
(If this could somehow be captured into a single face, the discussion would be over):
Second, the face would ideally belong to someone famous, big-time—maybe not MJ level (not a lot of those out there), but someone easily recognizable to the general sports masses.
Finally, the face must represent an appropriate reaction to a soul-crushing sports loss. This could mean tears, confusion, apathy, etc. But let's just say no smiling, happy person is equipped to take over for Crying Jordan—no, sir.
If anyone needs a profile shot, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has you covered:
All right, on to the real contenders:
Sad Bill Murray
Bill Murray's son Luke is an assistant coach for the Xavier men's basketball team. So it must have been a real bummer for the Caddyshack icon when Wisconsin knocked off the Musketeers via buzzer-beater during March Madness:
Sad Bill Murray went viral at the time, earning enough recognition to make a comeback possible if needed.
The only fan to make the cut here is Piccolo Girl, the famous Villanova band member who took her team's 2015 March Madness exit particularly poorly.
Obviously, they made up for it in 2016, plus she got to play on The Tonight Show, so it all turned out OK for Roxanne Chalifoux. She's still an iconic face of sports sadness, though.
Stunned Paul Allen
Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen had the perfect facial expression after Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry put up record numbers to beat his team in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Curry came off the bench to score 40 points, including an NBA-record 17 in overtime:
Allen's face—one that perfectly captured horrified confusion—may not be among the most recognizable in sports, but Curry's certainly is. Allen's bid to replace Crying Jordan could suffer because context is needed to make it worthwhile. (That face was still awesome, though.)
Jordan Spieth's 2016 Masters title defense didn't go quite as planned. A devastating collapse on the back nine led, instead, to a second-place finish. It also put him in the uncomfortable position of having to place the green jacket on the man who benefited from his downfall, Danny Willett.
In that moment, Spieth looked like a devastated man trying to hold back all the emotions.
Ah, an oldie but a goodie. Whatever happened to Crying LeBron? LeBron James is often compared to Jordan, so in that way, it would make sense for the Cleveland Cavaliers forward to represent the new generation of a legendary sports meme:
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was benched in each of the final two games of his team's first-round NHL playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was not happy:
This look of extreme, rageful displeasure might be just the shake-up Crying Jordan needs.
Angry Coach K
If the masses wanted to take Crying Jordan in an angry direction, Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is a perfect choice. The guy makes some of the best, most pronounced expressions of fury in sports.
Pretty much any "angry Coach K" photo could work, so folks would have the benefit of options.
Drake is already all over sports—why not spread his face to even more corners of the athletic world via sad meme? Luckily, the rapper provided the perfect facial expression at a Toronto Raptors game in 2015:
The wrinkle here is—if you see the entire Vine, Drake didn't appear to be sad at all. That's the beauty of memes, though—it only takes a second to capture the ideal image.
Shaquille O'Neal is one of the great NBA centers. Surely his fame is enough for a takeover meme. Plus, look at this hilarious crying. Any moment could be frozen into an incredible Crying Jordan 2.0:
Who better to take over for the GOAT than the GOAT, right?
Isn't the Internet magical?