In case you're not on Twitter—and good for you, really—Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has had himself quite a 24 hours.
Appearing on Chinese state television ostensibly to promote his new shoe, McCollum was asked about a topic for which he's recently become synonymous: resentment toward NBA superteams.
This summer, McCollum has emerged as one of the league's most vocal critics of the reigning back-to-back champion Golden State Warriors and their method of dynasty-building. When DeMarcus Cousins shocked the basketball world by signing with the Warriors back in June, McCollum confessed to texting the All-Star center to express his disbelief and displeasure. A few weeks ago on his podcast, McCollum got into a semi-playful spat with Warriors forward Kevin Durant, which spilled over into seemingly less-than-playful sparring on social media.
Unsurprisingly, then, when asked by a China Central Television reporter about the trend of superstar players joining a team already loaded with superstars, McCollum did not dull his words: "I think that's disgusting," he replied.
Despite the fact that the basketball commentariat—outside the Bay Area, anyway—has spent the past two years making the same argument, McCollum's seeming fixation on the topic sparked a backlash, with one Twitter user calling him "worse than a bitter ex."
"Win a playoff game then talk," wrote a woman named Jennifer Williams.
And that's when a meme was born.
And according to WW contributor Corbin Smith, it's not hard to see why the tweet sparked such widespread fervor—because in his exasperated desperation, McCollum really ended up speaking for us all.
"Is there any sentence written in this fucking hellhole world we find ourselves living in that more broadly expresses the sense of IMPOTENCE and irritability of LIVING right now than "Im trying Jennifer"?" Smith writes in a piece for Vice. "Please, God, this is hard, cut us some slack, we really do want to win but it's hard, c'mon."
Smith explains how McCollum has spent this maddeningly inactive Blazers offseason stepping on metaphorical rake after metaphorical rake, like so many Sideshow Bobs—and how his frustration, at its core, is our frustration:
And so, here he is, sitting on the shit end of a playoff sweep, his squad getting vaguely mismanaged and looking like maybe it could be in for a shitty year, no All-Star appearances to his name yet, irritable and jet-lagged halfway across the world, appearing on the news to pump up the weird Chinese sneakers he gets paid to sell, getting asked about if, in his opinion, the way the world is newly fucking him over is going to keep fucking him over. Then he gets mad, he gets online, and, eventually, exhausted, dying, he just slumps over and says fuck, goddamnit, I’m trying, please, this shit is so hard. Our man is having a terrible summer, for sure. But, goddamnit, with half the West Coast on fire and the country living through turmoil they haven’t seen in fifty years, who isn’t, man? C.J.’s rake-bruised face is OUR rake-bruised face.
Forget "Ball Don't Lie." For Blazer fans—and all of America—this is the era of "Im Trying Jennifer."
Read the whole essay here.