(Featured photo from @KingJames Instagram page)

It’s April which means the NBA Playoffs are upon us. It’s been a long year full of weird injury story lines, amazing rookie play, good teams taking an extra step to be great, and of course, LeBron/Cavs drama.

LeBron James will be looking to get to his 8th straight NBA Finals this year, and to do that he will first need to engage Zero Dark Thirty-23.

If you don’t know what Zero Dark Thirty-23 is, you’ll probably at least recognize the Zero Dark Thirty part of it, as that was the name of the mission that Seal Team Six embarked on when they eventually killed Osama Bin Laden. LeBron has been turning the ZDT name into a pun for himself, as a symbol for his intensity once playoff time comes around. The Zero Dark Thirty-23 is not only a reminder for everyone that it’s time for LeBron to go off in the playoffs, but also an indication that LeBron will be “blacking out” on a social media, not using it again until the playoffs are over for him.

He started this trend in 2012 and has been continuing it in 2013 and 2014 with just tweets. At the time it was Zero Dark Thirty-6 (6 for his number at the time with the Miami Heat)*. Coincidentally, LeBron’s first championship was in 2012, and he hasn’t missed the Finals since doing his annual ZDT ritual.

*(One of my favorite people in the world, Dan Katz aka Big Cat from Barstool Sports has pointed out many times how dumb it is that LeBron would say Zero Dark Thirty-23 instead of just Zero Dark 23. It’s not really a pun or play on words if you just throw in your current jersey number on the end. But anyways…)

View this post on Instagram

Zero dark thirty-23 activated #StriveForGreatness

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Once 2015 came around and he left Miami for his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he commenced that year’s Zero Dark Thirty-23 with an Instagram post of pure blackness, again, signaling his departure from social media for the playoffs. He did the same thing in 2016, but then surprised everyone with his 2017 post.

Yes, that is a vibrant picture of LeBron and his patented intense scream he does after his monster dunks with a lion right by him doing the same roar.

The post was met with some eye rolling but also some excitement as LeBron was ready to begin his quest to stop the superteam Warriors from winning their first championship with Kevin Durant (That didn’t work).

What Post Will We Get This Year?

There have been many story lines revolving around the Cavs this year, not unlike previous years with LeBron, but definitely more in general and with increased drama.

There were the mid-season problems with Isaiah Thomas, the team meetings calling out Kevin Love, and then the complete team overhaul before the trade deadline. Recent events that have happened include Kevin Love’s mental health/Players Tribune article, and now Tyronn Lue’s health problems.

All that will be put to the side once the playoffs start, as the King and his army go to battle to get Bron Bron his 4th ring. The question on everyone’s mind is, will the Cavs have enough firepower to get through the East and take down the Warriors/Rockets out of the West what picture will LeBron use to commence his activation of Zero Dark Thirty-23?

A Cleveland-centric Post

LeBron is “just a kid from Akron, Ohio” as everyone knows. He might use that Cleveland clout in his ZDT-23 post. Maybe a picture of him with the Cleveland skyline (do they have a skyline?) or a picture with him in front of his (now changed) famous “we are witnesses” building print. Either way, LeBron will embrace the hooplah surrounding his impending free agency this summer. It’s been reported many times that he will choose between the Cavs, Lakers, Rockets, or 76ers once the summer starts. If he leaves, it would be the 2nd time that he breaks the hearts of the Cleveland faithful. Why not take advantage of their love one last time before he leaves with his final Instagram post!

A Nice Team Picture

Everyone likes to make the joke of “The Cleveland LeBrons” since for these past few Cleveland years, LeBron has had to fill the stat sheet just to get his team some wins. He’s been turning into that one-man show lately, averaging 30.9 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and 10.0 APG in his last 10 games (as of April 2nd). LeBron always likes to downplay the fact that the Cavs are only as good as how he is playing, stressing team team team any chance he can get. What better way to keep the “Good Teammate LeBron” personality going than a picture of him and his whole squad. I can see a picture along the lines of the lion picture, with LeBron big and up front in the picture, but with the likes of Kevin Love, Jordan Clarkson, George Hill and the whole gang right behind him. It’d be a good way for LeBron to show that he is all-in with them (until this offseason, when he leaves them).

A Post Acknowledging his Competition

LeBron’s path to a 4th championship and/or a 8th straight NBA Finals will not be easy. The Cavs are currently the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, and they won’t be getting any higher than that. In fact, the 76ers and the Pacers are hot on their trails and could easily leapfrog the Cavs and put them at the 5th seed. Either way, LeBron’s team (whether he was on the Cavs or the Heat) hasn’t finished lower than the 2 seed since the Cavs were the 4th seed in the 2007-08 season. This year, teams like the Raptors and the Celtics both present legitimate challenges to the King if he wants to get to the Finals. That doesn’t even take into account the Rockets, Warriors, or whatever Western Conference powerhouse meets the East in the Finals. With all these odds stacked against LeBron, it gives me the feeling he will be taking a “me against the world” approach to these playoffs. Maybe his ZDT-23 post will involve him staring down the animated likes of James Harden, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Kyrie Irving, etc. LeBron LOVES to stir the pot, so this would definitely be an opportunity to call out his fellow competitors before blacking out on social media.

An Even More Petty Post of his Competitors

This is going to be pretty much the same exact post from above, except LeBron will be framed in the picture sort of like the Kermit/Tea meme. Except instead of tea LeBron will be drinking some VINO!

He’ll be drinking his favorite alcohol while those same sort of players will be in the background saying “SHEESH” or something along those lines.

I don’t know, I would just love for “SHEESH” to be used in this picture in some sort of way.

He Disappoints Us All, and Goes Back to the Standard Blackout

This would be a real downer. LeBron bucked his own trend last year with the absurdly cocky lion picture. I’m expecting something just as arrogant or petty this year with his post. He could keep it simple and go with the straight up blackout picture he used in prior years. This would give off the message that LeBron isn’t focused on all that outside noise like “legacy” talk, the discussion of his free agency, or what the #blogboys have to say about his next ZDT-23 post.

But also, let’s be real. LeBron is always fully aware of all the outside chatter that surrounds him and all his decisions. He stays fully informed of what the media and fans think and say all while being the best basketball player in the world. That’s why I’d be surprised if he didn’t take the opportunity to make waves or be petty, since everyone knows some sort of ZDT-23 post is coming.

NBA Playoffs start April 14th. Expect his post right around that time.