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Lelbron is a photoshop meme featuring a photograph of the Miami Heat professional basketball player LeBron James wearing pair of black-rimmed glasses and a smile. The meme involves superimposing a cutout of LeBron’s face into other base images of various settings and contexts.
On March 9th, 2012, the blog for the American cuisine restaurant Crave highlighted a photograph of the owner and chef posing with the Miami Heat basketball players LeBron James (shown left), Dwayne Wade (shown middle) and Chris Bosh (shown right). In the photo, James could be seen wearing a smile with his jaw jutting in a peculiar fashion, reminiscent of the trollface illustration.
Photoshopped versions of the image are rumored to have started in the /sp/ (sports) board on 4chan, but early threads have not been archived. On May 26th, YouTuber NowItsInTheTrashCan uploaded a video titled “lelbron.gif”, featuring a rotating animation of James’ head accompanied by the song “Ridin’ Spinners” by the rap group Three Six Mafia.
On June 21st, Tumblr user rgpr1m3 posted an image gallery featuring nine notable examples of Lelbron photoshops, which received over 300 notes within two months. On July 3rd, a page titled “LelBron James” was created on the image macro website Meme Generator, which featured a square-cropped version of Crave’s image post with captions containing meme catchphrases and sports references (shown below).
On July 6th, Imgur user lelbron created a gallery containing 268 Lelbron images, which received over 26,300 views within one month. The same day, the @lelbron Twitter account was created, highlighting various basketball and sports-related meme images. On July 11th, a thread was submitted to the /sp/ board on 4chan titled “LelBron Dump”, which received several replies with notable examples from the series. On July 22nd, the Inside Hoops Forum member RazorBaLade submitted a thread titled “Best Lelbron Ever”, which featured an animated GIF of a child with James’ head swatting an elderly woman’s cup of tea (shown below). When asked where the meme originated, RazorBaLade replied that it came from the /sp/ (sports) board on 4chan.
LeBron James is the small forward in the Miami Heat National Basketball Association (NBA) team in Miami, Florida. According to Wikipedia, he has received the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award three times, the NBA All-Star award eight times, eight All-NBA honors and four All-Defensive honors. LeBron has been viewed as a polarizing figure in terms of popularity and likability. On September 14th, 2010, CNBC published an article titled “LeBron’s Q Score Takes Huge Hit”, which reported that 14 percent of the general population viewed James favorably, while 39 percent held a negative opinion of the basketball player. On February 7th, 2012, LeBron was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of America’s “most disliked athletes.”