Autostraddle March Madness: Better Halves – Final Four

Back in 2000, ESPN dropped The Last Dance, a 10-part miniseries that documented the career of basketball’s greatest player, Michael Jordan, with a particular focus on his final run with the Chicago Bulls (1997-1998). The docuseries debuted at the height of the pandemic and filled a tremendous void among sports fans, in the absence of actual live sports. It offered a fuller picture of things basketball fans knew or had long speculated about — Jordan’s longstanding disdain for the Pistons, Jordan’s unlikely deal with Nike, the party culture of NBA teams — and revealed a lot of things to which fans had never been privy, such as the acrimony between Jordan and Bulls front office or Rodman’s 48 hour midseason Vegas vacation. But, perhaps, the most indelible portion of Last Dance…the thing that sticks with even non-sports fans today: the memes.

Jordan’s no strange to Internet meme culture: in 2009, the tears he shed at his Hall of Fame induction became an instant meme. The “Crying Jordan” face became the go-to meme for anyone who’d lost something or disappointed their fans. But Last Dance took Jordan’s memeifaction to a whole ‘nother level. This one remains a favorite:

A still from The Last Dance of Michael Jordan sitting in an accent chair with outstretched arms. Across the photo are Jordan's words from the docuseries, "...and I took that personally."

Michael Jordan was (is?) a master self-motivator. Every slight — real or imagined — he used to make himself better. Someone else wins the MVP trophy? Jordan took that personally. A handful of Chicago sportswriters picked Cleveland to oust the Bulls in the playoffs. Jordan took that personally. LaBradford Smith says “nice game Mike” after scoring 37 points against him? Jordan took that personally…and went back to Washington and torched Smith for 36 points in the first half. That’s just how Jordan rolled.

And, apparently, that’s how y’all roll too because in the Elite 8, I touted how unstoppable Gigi Ghorbani looked through the opening rounds of this contest…and y’all took that personally. I speculated that Gigi’s popularity would carry her on-screen girlfriend, Dani, on to the Finals and, again, y’all took that personally. I touted how formidable Casey and Izzie looked, y’all took that personally. Voters seemed intent on challenging every bit of conventional wisdom and tossing it out the window.

After three amazingly tight contests in the Sweet 16, the Elite 8 gave us four unexpected blow-outs: Waverly Earp blew past Dani, Emily trounced Casey, Carina crushed Izzie and, in perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament thus far, Sophie Moore overwhelmed Gigi. Those eliminations mean that no couple will meet in the Finals. I’d wager a prediction about what’s going to happen next but y’all continue to surprise me and I think I’ll just wait and see what havoc is wreaked in this Final Four.

I am a little comforted by the fact that no one really saw this Final Four coming. A cursory glance at the Leaderboard suggests that no one predicted this Final Four slate. I feel fortunate to have had a good run through the Sweet 16 but after your Elite 8 picks, my bracket — which included just two of the final four — is on its way to being busted. How’s your bracket doing? Are you one of the handful of folks who correctly predicted three of the final four participants? Is your prediction for the eventual champion still alive?

You’ve got 48 hours to continue to confound all expectations!

Waverly Earp, Wynonna Earp vs. Emily, Dickinson

 Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Waverly Earp vs. Emily. Voting ends 4/12.

 Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Sophie Moore vs. Carina DeLuca. Voting ends 4/12.

Sophie Moore, Batwoman vs. Carina DeLuca, Station 19

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A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 400 articles for us.


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