If you’re getting tired of the Michael Jordan meme, you’re in good company.
His Airness himself doesn’t care much for Crying Jordan, at least according to one of his friends.
“No, he don’t like it,” Charles Oakley, a Chicago Bulls teammate of Jordan’s in the late ’80s, told TMZ. “No, he don’t like it.”
Oakley didn’t elaborate on the reasons behind Jordan’s dislike. Perhaps it’s that Jordan, now a billionaire, doesn’t actually make money off it. Sorry, Ja Rule, but MJ doesn’t receive $1 every time someone uses the meme. If he did, he’d own the planet and he is keeping an eye on the meme.
“I don’t recall when we first started noticing it — everything explodes so quickly on the Internet, and suddenly it was everywhere,” Estee Portnoy, his spokesperson and senior vice president of JumpDC, told the Chicago Tribune in February. “Everyone seems to be having fun with the meme and it just keeps going. We haven’t seen anyone using it to promote their commercial interests, which is something that we’re monitoring.”
It’s also entirely possible that Jordan isn’t fond of the meme because it reminds him of the moment the photo was snapped, at his Hall of Fame induction in 2009. He broke down briefly as he began his speech, then went full Jordan in what was, by Hall of Fame standards, a remarkable address. Jordan passed up schmaltz and, instead, his remarks had real edge as he singled out enemies perceived and real as well as people who had doubted him. It was a compelling speech that, as ESPN’s Jon Greenberg wrote in 2009, revealed him to be “the most competitive person alive.”
The greatest athlete of our time made sure to point out the high school coach who didn’t put him on the varsity his sophomore year. (He was never cut, per se. That’s an urban myth akin to Catfish Hunter’s nickname origin.) He pointed out the guy who made the team “over” him, who was in the audience; his college roommate, Buzz Peterson; the NBA vets who froze him out in his first All-Star Game, two of whom were there, George Gervin (who presented David Robinson) and Isiah Thomas (who presented John Stockton); Jazz guard Bryon Russell, who was guarding him on his final shot in a Bulls uniform; and, of course, former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, with whom he had real conflict during his career. Krause, forever the outsider looking in, made the mistake of claiming he was skipping Jordan’s induction because former coach Tex Winter, the originator of the triangle offense, wasn’t inducted.
So you can see how even being the King of All Memes might rub him the wrong way.
Whatever the reason — and Jordan himself isn’t really saying much about it — the meme probably isn’t going to go away.