Poor Kevin Durant.
Because the NBA is a sporting league that is down with the Youth Of Today and knows how Millennials Use The Social Media, they have created a set of special commemorative emoji to celebrate the 2016 All-Star Game in Toronto. (After all, NBA players take emoji seriously.) But which of these emoji is the best emoji? There is only one way to be sure: a ranked list, which is the journalism equivalent of emoji.
Not ranked: the announcer emojis. Are they playing in the game? No? Then they don’t get ranked. We do admire, though, that Shaq’s hashtag is the only one where they didn’t bother using his first and last name. Such is the power of #Shaq.
24: Kevin Durant. It’s literally just his jersey number. Certainly Durant is partially to blame for this, given that every time fans come up with a fun nickname for him (like “Durantula” or “Slim Reaper”) he says he doesn’t like it and everybody stops using it. But come on, NBA social media people. You get paid to resolve conundrums like this! You could have come up with literally anything and it would have been better. He plays for the Thunder, so use a lightning bolt or something? See, we thought that up right now and it’s better than “just his number.”
23: Pau Gasol. Same issue as Kevin Durant, but Pau Gasol has never really had a nickname which stuck and he’s 35 so maybe it’s not the time to try and invent something for him. And it’s probably not a good idea to try to tie him to the Chicago Bulls (his current team), considering the strong chance that he leaves the Bulls next season.
22: Russell Westbrook. It looks like he’s pooping.
21: Chris Paul. The new Los Angeles Clippers logo is one of the most reviled sporting team logos in recent history. CP3 deserves better than to be given an emoji that reminds everybody of that horrible, no good, awful logo.
20: John Wall. John Wall’s nickname is “Optimus Dime.” When he plays with Bradley Beal in the Washington Wizards’ backcourt, their collective nickname is “House of Guards.” These are great nicknames, so of course the NBA emoji creators went with “generic flexing arm and John Wall’s number.” They literally could have just created an emoji of an actual brick wall and it would have been so much better.
19: Draymond Green. Why is Draymond Green represented by a bulging bicep? Yes, he’s strong, we get it, but everybody in the NBA is pretty strong. Plus, Draymond Green has so many great nicknames: “Dancing Bear,” “Dray Money,” “Everybody Loves Draymond” and most recently “Draymagic.” Such a missed opportunity here.
18: Chris Bosh. We get what they were trying to do–combine his number with the Miami Heat’s “burning” look in their logo and press materials– but the shape of the “1” becomes lost and as a result looks indistinct and messy.
17: Isaiah Thomas. The first one that is at least acceptable. It’s Boston’s clover and his jersey number and it makes sense. It’s not going to blow anybody away with its creativity, but it is the bare minimum needed to work. Participation grade: awarded.
16: DeMar DeRozan. PROBABLY A CONVERSATION THAT WAS HAD WHEN THEY CAME UP WITH THIS EMOJI: “Man, what are we gonna do for DeRozan? What makes him stand out?” “Maybe we put a raptor somewhere in his emoji?” “Too obvious. “What if it’s a DE-moji?” “That doesn’t make sense.” “…what if we put a maple leaf there? Because Canada?” Oh, now I think we have something. Add his number and I think that’s a good day’s work. Let’s go spend those million dollar salaries we probably make on frivolous wasteful things.” “Right on.”
15: Dwyane Wade. Like Chris Bosh, but this time it works.
14: Paul Millsap. We have no idea why a suitcase is supposed to represent Paul Millsap. It’s a distinctive emoji, it looks good, it’s memorable, and the initials make it a solid enough representation for Paul Millsap. But why the suitcase? Is this somebody’s sneaky way of telling us that Paul Millsap is getting traded? Oh man, that might be it. Alert the rumour websites right now!
13: Steph Curry. Kind of looks like he doesn’t even know why he’s here. Was simply giving the best shooter in NBA history a bullseye or a target or something like that considered too risqué?
12: Anthony Davis. The Brow is a known nickname/personal trademark, so it’s a solid choice for Davis’ emoji, but the problem with the execution is that it looks like a tilde or one of those weird forms of punctuation that only get used in coding languages. This emoji probably needed some glaring eyes or something underneath the unibrow to give it some extra flair.
11: Andre Drummond. It’s a drum! Because his name is Drummond! A visual pun! See, how hard was that, NBA emoji people? Seriously, go back and re-do John Wall’s emoji.
10: Carmelo Anthony. Of the “here’s the player’s face” emojis that the NBA created for this, this is the best one because Carmelo looks totally chill. This is an emoji that says “yeah, I know the Knicks aren’t that good right now, but I’m still an All-Star and I deserve to be an All-Star. Now pass me a delicious Vernors ginger soda.” We don’t know if Carmelo likes Vernors. We just think it is something that chill dudes probably drink. Also stoned dudes. Okay, we admit it, Carmelo’s emoji looks high. Trippin’ balls high.
9: Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi has giant hands, so using them to create a stylized “K” is not the worst idea in the world, and this emoji is certainly visually distinctive. But do you look at this and say “yep, that’s a stylized K?” Because we don’t. You have to want to see a stylized “K” there.
8: Paul George. Paul George’s primary nickname is, in fact, “PG-13” because sometimes one’s initials and jersey number go together like chocolate and peanut butter in a Reese’s cup, so putting it on a movie ticket is a great emoji for George.
7: LaMarcus Aldridge. As much as we dislike the “L-Train” nickname for Aldridge (and we’re not alone), this is a solid emoji for him. Compared to “let’s give John Wall a flexing bicep for no good reason” this is emoji Shakespeare right here.
6: Klay Thompson. Klay Thompson is known for making it rain three-pointers, so this is perfectly good. A raindrop, his number, in Golden State Warrior colours. It’s simple and direct and iconic. Good work all around.
5: Kyle Lowry. A raptor-torn 7 is distinct, appropriate, visually striking and fun, and no we didn’t just rank him this high because we’re homers.
4: LeBron James. You can’t go wrong with a crown for the King; the only flaw here is the needless Cavaliers logo on the crown, which you know is there because someone in the Cavaliers front office got nervous and started freaking out about “what if there’s no logo, people might think LeBron is leaving” and then they called the NBA Emoji Department and cried for an hour before the emoji people said “look, we’ll put the logo on the crown, okay” and then the Cavs dude said “…okay,” and then someone took him out for ice cream.
3: James Harden. The Fear The Beard logo for James Harden is iconic, so this is a case of not breaking something that wasn’t broken.
2: Kobe Bryant. Wherein we learn that Kobe’s likely final major NBA branding opportunity sees him go with his “Black Mamba” nickname as opposed to his more recent “Vino” nickname, both of which Kobe gave himself, because that’s who he is. You know that unlike every other emoji here, Kobe Bryant probably hand-designed this emoji with the assistance of a team of professional illustrators, who went through 47 iterations of “a black snake” before Kobe was satisfied that they had truly captured his inner warrior spirit.
1: DeMarcus Cousins. OH MY GOD IT IS AN ADORABLE GHOST. Because his nickname is “Boogie,” and ghosts go “boo,” but they also gave the adorable ghost Boogie’s headband. This emoji is perfect on so many levels. Boogie should get the original artwork framed and hang it in his home. This is legitimately fantastic.