As the ramp-up to the 2016-17 NBA All-Star Game reaches its apex, we here on the Internet, too, prepare to pay homage to this year's biggest performers in the digital sphere.
Thus we celebrate the 2016-17 All-Meme All-Stars—the inaugural award weekend dedicated to paying tribute to the greatest image macros and GIFs of the last year.
Herein are the first, second and third All-Meme teams, as voted for by you, the fans, in conjunction with coaches and “pop culture bloggers" throughout the Twittersphere.
The following image macros are, indeed, the best of the best, and it's only fitting that they receive their due praise for their elite performances in online shading and distracting us from the real, visceral horrors of the world over the last year.
Without further ado, your 2016-17 All-Meme All-Stars, starting with the third team reserves:
PG: Sad Ted Cruz
Exploded early in the season with career-highs in sadness and soups slurped (SS).
All-Star Stat: 1-for-1 primaries lost.
SG: Desiigner Cringe
A marksman shader you can plug and play with almost any trending subject.
All-Star Stat: Leads all rookies in Nope/Hell Naw double-doubles.
SF: Confused Nick Young
A lethal outside shooter with a quick release and no idea why you’d pay to get mud put on your dog's face for relaxation.
All-Star Stat: 5.4 fireworks exploded in hand.
PF: Nets Scrubs
Low motor, high numbness.
All-Star Stat: 4-for-5 cut from the team.
C: Salt Bae
Another rookie meme fans around the league are beginning to dig on. Don’t be surprised to see this man snake-sprinkling Ls onto pop culture’s biggest losses for years to come.
All-Star Stat: All-time Internet Association leader in meats flipped per 36 minutes (69.9).
PG: Mr. Krabs
Lost a close race for first-team, but Mr. Krabs and his swirling horror blur remain a singular talent in the league thanks to his speed in transition and ability to finish Twitter arguments.
All-Star Stat: League-leader in horrifying realizations per day in 2016 (4.5), has helped boost the San Antonio S into the top five in the league in pace in which life comes at you.
A Weird Twitter veteran with years in the league who is finally receiving recognition for his versatility and inscrutable demeanor.
All-Star Stat: 2007 Jeep Wrangler Slam Dunk contest winner, all-time league leader in attempted brands (36,786).
SF: Mac Daddy Santa Tiger
A rookie macro with an exposed chest and high upside, Mac Daddy Santa became one of the most unexpected stars of the 2016-17 Internet season after his breakout game against Our General Expectations on December 22.
Mac Daddy Santa has since cooled off, but I expect Tiger Woods’ shirtless Godsmack nipples to make more splashes along the way as we near the postseason.
All-Star Stat: Milk Duds +/- (2),
PF: Uncle Denzel / Denzel Washedington
Another returning Meme Team All-Star, Denzel Washedington will be coming off the bench for the first time in his sweatpanted career. He’s not as ubiquitous as he once was, but shows a Dwyane Wade-ish ability to turn back the clock and drop a game-winning question about how your mother is doing when it’s crunch time and the stakes are high.
All-Star Stat: 4.5 Miller High Lifes before noon.
C: Tom Brady Courtroom Sketch
A goliath from 2015 and guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer.
Courtroom Brady’s lack of form and ugly technique belie a skilled and versatile meme whose application works in almost any format.
All-Star Stat: HoldsGuinness Book of World Records mark for longest middle finger given to Roger Goodell.
The youngest member of the 2016-17 All-Star Game, Conceited came out of nowhere last fall and shocked the league with his judgmental court vision and proficiency as a two-way shader.
A rookie out of Reddit, Conceited quickly earned praise from veterans and coaches around the league, including one Gregg Popovich, who was effusive in his praise of the young guard in the runup to All-Star Weekend.
"It's rare to see a young meme that can come in at this level and get it done in GIF and JPEG form. That usually takes years, if it happens at all…But that’s a hallmark of the great ones. Toaster Cat...Badger Badger Mushroom...those guys came in and you could tell right away, they just got it."
Another young meme playing in his first All-Star game, Evil Kermit is having a breakout year with the Los Angeles Tea Lizards and establishing himself as a force within Twitter dialogue jokes.
Evil Kermit is leading the league in contested joke attempts (28.4 per news cycle)—a style he says is modeled after one of his Internet heroes.
“J.R. Smith has always been an inspiration,” Evil Kermit told reporters after his 40-foot game-winner against Studying For the Final. “I’ve always admired his commitment to pulling up and letting it fly, whether it’s contested shots early in the game clock or contested advances early in the DMs.”
All-Star Stat: 9 blocks, 7 mutes & 14 unfollows in a single halftime.
SF: Crying Jordan
A perennial All-Star starter since coming into the league in 2015, Crying Jordan is a once-in-a-generation talent who shows no sign of slowing down despite his advancing age.
Jordan once again led all memes in fan, player and coach votes despite playing fewer minutes and sitting for a career-high in rest nights.
"He’s not going to go out there and hang 40 on Meek Mill every night anymore,” said Antoine Dodson, head coach of the San Antonio Bed Intruders. “But when the stakes are high and the L is imminent, he’s every bit as dominant as he was in his prime."
CJ’s brilliant 2016-17 campaign began in April and continued throughout the season, including a historic run in the 2016 NBA Finals and a gold medal in the 200-meter schadenfreude at the Rio Olympics. His longevity and ability to create on the timeline remains a singular event in Internet history and sadness as a larger concept.
All-Star Stats: Career .453 LT
PF: The Warriors Blew a 3-1 Lead
The Warriors Blew a 3-1 Lead narrowly edged out Mr. Krabs in fan voting for first team honors due in large part to a small but active grassroots campaign started by fans of the niche
There are bigger and less nebulous Twitter jokes out there, but none with the pinpoint accuracy and unpredictable first step of the meme that exists solely to mock one of the greatest sports meltdowns in history.
All-Star Stat: 3-4 against the Cavaliers in 2016, 4-3 against NBA teams with 73 wins or more.
Benefitted heavily from the fan vote and being killed by employees of the Cincinnati Zoo.
All-Star Stat: League leader in College GameDay signs (6,969).