The "Lelbron": A Complete History of the Internet's Greatest LeBron James Meme
It's hard to believe it's been four years since LeBron James chose to take his talents to South Beach, but here we are. These Big 3 Miami Heat teams have been more entertaining, than any of us could have imagined -- and not just because they've dominated on the court. From Chris Bosh's run as an animated interstellar prince to D-Wade's fashion antics, these guys are pure Internet gold.
The greatest Heatles web hit of all, though, is the Lelbron. Here's the backstory behind how an obscure picture of LeBron James smiling became the best thing you didn't know you needed until you saw it.
According to knowyourmeme.com, it all started with the photo above, a seemingly inconspicuous shot taken on March 9th, 2012. The blog for the American cuisine restaurant "Crave" posted the picture of their owner and chef posing with a cheesing LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. It's the sort of photo one would imagine Heat players take daily. It's the kind of photo a fan would brag about forever, but the rest of the world would never know about.
Not this one. Nope. This photo would become anything but little known.
The meme was born in the infamous 4chan community, because of course it was. The simple bulletin-board based site where anyone can post or share images got a hold of the image sometime after it was taken, and did what 4chan does best -- Internet so hard.
LeBron + Troll = "LelBron"
Shortly after 4chan was done doing their thing, the image spread to YouTube, where a user named NowItsInTheTrashCan uploaded a video titled "lelbron.gif" that featured a spinning, hypnotizing, LeBron James head, rotating to the track "Ridin' Spinners" by Three Six Mafia. For four minutes and fourteen seconds this is all that happens. It's the most ridiculously simple thing ever, but at the same time, extremely addictive. More than 20,000 people have watched this:
From there the Internet did the rest of the work.
From all accounts, Heat fan Azam Masood (@Amas92 on Twitter) deserves the most credit for drawing attention to the "Lelbron" meme craze :
"In like 2012 I saw them and asked where on earth did he make that derpy face? A few unknown people were making them, and I started making them for fun. It was just funny on EVERYTHING you put it on." Masood says. "LeBron himself seems to be somewhat aware of it."
Actually, that seems rather likely.
After a Heat game last season, LeBron all but confirmed he's in on the joke, duplicating the face in a video bomb of Dwyane Wade's post game "Winners Circle" interview with Jason Jackson.
Then again later in the season.
With validation that LeBron had taken notice of their efforts, the photoshops and gif's have starting pouring in tenfold. The images starting popping up everywhere from Twitter and Facebook, to Tumblr and Instagram.
The image makes Heat fans just as happy as it makes Heat haters mad. It's almost never not funny.