Imagine Twitter & Memes During The Jordan Era…

    READS: 911
    Updated: June 11, 2014

    Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time. His exploits on the court are as well documented as anything for any athlete in history. He’s loved, revered, and respected globally by all sports fans. He’s a living legend. But luckily for Jordan he missed the social media era during his career. Jordan missed the twitter and meme era and the over-the-top reactions minute to minute of sports fans around the world. One second a player is the greatest ever, the next second he’s an absolute bum and everyone should have known it. Jordan didn’t have to endure that scrutiny.

    In Jordan’s time people would call each other via telephone or in person about whatever transpired during the games. There was no mass opinion unless you wrote for a magazine or newspaper, or were a television analyst. Unfortunately, today’s players aren’t so lucky and have every second of their lives on and off the court dissected and reported on by people who have to power to sway opinions. Sometimes the more followers on twitter a person has, the more people will conform to their opinion because of course, a lot of followers must mean brilliant opinions correct? No, not quite.

    Alas, the social media world of twitter, memes, Facebook, and every other social platform are what current players must endure. One player that is always the favorite target good or bad of social media is LeBron James of the Miami Heat. LeBron seems to get it the harshest when it comes to the entity that’s known as “basketball” twitter. Why the over the reactions to LeBron? I’m not quite sure. He’s easily the greatest player of his generation so maybe that might have something to do with it. Or maybe people are still angry about the Decision special. Regardless, it got me to thinking about what some of the memes and twitter reactions would be during the Jordan era. I always hear people say “Can you imagine twitter during Jordan’s playing career?”

    I can only speculate and use my imagination, but having been on twitter for the last three months, I can see why it’s such a cultural phenomenon. It’s amazing some of the things people say and create. Here are a few moments in Jordan’s career that have always stuck out to me and how I think some of the twitter reactions and meme pictures may have gone had social media been around in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s.


    The Shot Heard Round The…Cleveland? 

    One of the most legendary shots in basketball history came in game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round match-up between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. Everyone has seen the shot by Michael Jordan, and the video is still played regularly 25 years later on basketball networks across America. That shot sealed the series for Jordan and the Bulls and from that day forward “The Shot” has become the stuff of legend. But how would twitter have reacted to that? Here are a couple of tweets on how I think the reaction would go:

    Tweet 1:

      Tweet 2:

    And there you have it. Typical reactions on twitter from what I’ve seen. Some of the praise may go a bit too far, while others may not praise enough. Then mayhem ensues. Fun.


    Jordan’s MVP Season in 1988: 

    In 1988 Michael Jordan was crowned the NBA’s MVP while averaging an absurd 35 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds on a ridiculous 54% shooting. Great numbers, but those are just great regular season numbers. No one cares about an MVP that doesn’t win a ring correct? Let’s fast forward to 2014. Kevin Durant raised his first MVP trophy in the 2013-2014 NBA season and is touted as the next in line behind the league’s current best player LeBron James. In the social media world Durant is another favorite target similar to that of LeBron James.

    There’s even a “curse” from a rapper named Lil B called the “BasedGod Curse” (Here’s a link on the entire BasedGod curse thing. Don’t ask me, just read and try to understand it for what it is smh) that stemmed from something Durant wrote about the rapper on twitter. Whenever Durant loses the Lil B memes come alive like fireworks on July 4th. Well the reigning MVP didn’t reach the NBA Finals this season. Durant lost in the Conference Finals to the San Antonio Spurs and twitter went nuts and not in a good way for KD. 

    Jordan and his Bulls didn’t even make it to the conference finals in his 1988 MVP season. The “BadBoy” Detroit Pistons dumped Michael and the Bulls out of the playoffs that year in just 5 games winning the series 4-1. Can you imagine what the memes and twitter reactions on that day would have been like? Maybe something like this:


    Yikes. Looks like Jordan Dodged that Bullet. There may have been no Lil B curse on Jordan but I am sure the wonderful minds of 1988 would have created something. Sad we missed that gem.  


    Jordan Retires Then Returns…but not Triumphantly?


    After the Bulls won their third straight title in 1993, Michael Jordan decided to call it quits and pursue other ventures in his still relatively young life. He left behind the sport he had excelled at for so long to try his hand at another sport he had loved since he was a child, baseball. Once Jordan left, the NBA Title was once again up for grabs. The Bulls still had Pippen and Phil Jackson but without Michael they were just another contender. Now guys like Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Reggie Miller and a host of others could actually win the NBA title and not have to worry about going through Jordan to do so. Jordan as we all know did not excel in baseball and decided it was time to go home to the sport he was essentially a God in. Once the news of Jordan’s return had been made official, the media went crazy. Well, 1995 media crazy anyway. I’m sure a meme sort of like this would have been floating around the social media world had it existed in 1995:

    Yes, the knives would have been out and early.  Jordan returned in March of 1995 and the Bulls made it to the second round of the 1995 playoff where they lost to the Orlando Magic 4-2. Jordan’s not reaching the Finals??? But I thought he was the greatest? This is how I envision memes and tweets would have looked like after Jordan and Bulls lost to the Magic:

    Good time huh. Well what can you do. He didn’t make it back to another Finals but back then it was what it was. He was rusty and he needed more playing time. But back then it was easy to get away with. Now, Jordan would have been slandered until the season opener of the 95-96 season.


    But I Thought You Said Jordan Was Clutch… 

    Being clutch is the best thing an athlete can be in sports next to being a winner. The word clutch is synonymous with greatness and always will be. People’s definition of clutch differs but we all know Michael Jordan was clutch and that’s not up for debate. LeBron James has been clutch in certain moments too throughout his career but he will never get the credit for having that killer instinct that Michael had. Does it mean Bron is any less clutch? Absolutely not. But Bron will sacrifice taking the last shot and pass it up to a teammate who’s wide open. That would be the better basketball play, but it is perceived by many to be a weakness by LeBron. Take for example the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers.

    Bron has the ball, he drives into the lane and kicks out to his right where a WIDE OPEN Chris Bosh is waiting. Keep in mind Bosh has hit more three’s this post season than anyone on his team. Bosh takes the shot, and misses. All of a sudden social media explodes and Bron is back to being a non-clutch bum. Astounding. My take on that play is of no importance but the reactions I saw on twitter were frightening. You’d have thought Bron robbed a bank while taking someone’s grandmother hostage with the vitriol thrown his way. That scenario made me think of the 1997 NBA Finals in Game 6 when Michael Jordan passed the ball to Steve Kerr in the Finals and Kerr nailed it to give the Bulls a 92-90 victory. What if Kerr missed that shot?

    Would that make Jordan any less clutch? Well we’ll never know as per social media because twitter wasn’t around then. But even though Kerr made the shot, I’m sure there would have been a tweet or two floating around that looked like this: 

    Kinda makes you scratch your head doesn’t it? Kerr made the shot yet there would likely have been someone out there lambasting Jordan for making the right basketball play. Yeah, I would have been baffled right along with you.  


    The Flu Game… 

    Is there any game in the history of basketball with more lore than the Flu Game? Possibly, but that game will always be spoken of when it comes to great performances in basketball and sports history. From what people in Chicago have said it wasn’t a flu that had Jordan in that sickly state, rather he was suffering from food poisoning. During the broadcast Marv Albert said he was suffering from Flu Like Symptoms and then the legendary name was born. Jordan went absolutely crazy in the game and afterwards Scottie Pippen was quoted as saying, “He’s the greatest, and everyone saw why tonight.” Of course Pippen was right, Jordan was the greatest to ever play the sport and the Flu game just added more to the Jordan legend. This is the kind of tweet I think most of us would have seen that night in 1997 had twitter been around:

    Of course there would have been others saying that this performances didn’t make him the greatest of all time but you get where I’m going. It was a great performance that we all just sat back and marveled at, and it wasn’t ruined in any way by social media. Unfortunately those un-ruined moments will never happen again for current greats. Long Live the Flu Game.


    The Shot That Ended It All…and 1998 Conspiracy Guy 

    I never take Jordan’s Washington Wizards years into consideration when I discuss his career. To me that never happened and I refuse to acknowledge it. The last memory I will have of the real Michael Jordan was his shot against the Utah Jazz in Game 6 on Byron Russell to seal the Bulls 2nd 3-Peat in the Jordan/Pippen/Jackson era. One point of contention on that play has always been Michael’s use of his hand to push Russell to his right to get breathing room to make the shot. Jordan hit the shot and the rest is history. But had twitter been around then it would not have been so cut and dry. Reason being is NBA Conspiracy guy. Conspiracy guys in the NBA have been around since the Patrick Ewing draft in 1985 and how Commissioner David Stern rigged the draft. And since then it’s been all Area 51 and Zapruder Films. I’m sure there would have been thousand of tweets just like this one had twitter been around during that finals shot:


    Ahhhh good times conspiracy guy, good times.

    Well ladies and gents there you have it. Of course this is all just a product of my crazy thoughts, but it does make you wonder how easy players in the past generation had it. Back then the players had far fewer people in their business on and off the court, more peace of mind and less scrutiny. The good life. Players today have it far worse, but this is the life they chose and as millionaires no one is going to feel bad for them. But imagine twitter in the 80’s and 90’s, especially for a guy like Michael Jordan. Now that would have been the spectacle of all spectacles.

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