Crying Jordan vs. Crying LeBron

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Some have called current Giphy community coordinator and former Know Your Meme meme scientist Ari Spool a meme expert.

"I mean, I don't get tired of memes," Spool said. "They just kind of fade off into obscurity and then I don't have to see them anymore."

But while some memes last longer than others, one meme's led many to wonder if it might never evaporate into the digital ether.

"They cut the headshot of him crying and made it into an image macro," Spool said, "which is the kind of meme where there's text above and below in a very strong font called Impact."

We call that aforementioned meme: Crying Jordan. That image of Michael Jordan shared without context all over the Internet originated from an AP photo taken at MJ's Hall of Fame-induction ceremony in 2009. A couple of years later, the Internet started bastardizing those tears of joy, pasting Jordan's crying face onto the body of anyone it recognized as experiencing loss, failure or disappointment. Social media then remained smitten with this online joke for the next half decade.

"Well, I think that's because Michael Jordan's legacy is greater than that of any other basketball player," Spool said.

On Sunday, the man posing the greatest challenge to Jordan's legacy also shed happy tears for hundreds of cameras, and many on the Internet attempted to replace crying Jordan with crying LeBron.

"The thing about crying Michael Jordan is that his tears are very soft," Spool said.

But Spool -- again, a former meme scientist -- argues crying LeBron's expression communicates an intensity crying Jordan's does not.

"I think you'd use a crying LeBron face in a totally different totally different situation than a crying Jordan face," she said.

So that leaves only one question to decide whether an Internet of crying Jordans might soon surrender to an Internet of crying LeBrons: Which of those situations arises most frequently?

"I mean, will LeBron James ever replace Jordan? I think the answer is probably no."