NBA 2K: The best cover athletes in the game's history
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The best covers in NBA 2K history

The NBA 2k brand has dominated the virtual arena and has captured basketball fans from across the globe. The unveiling of their annual cover athlete has been a major event and has given gamers something to look forward to come Fall.

Let’s take a look at the most iconic NBA 2k covers since it’s 1999 debut.

5. Allen Iverson (NBA 2k)

We have to start in the very beginning – NBA 2k’s first-ever cover athlete, Allen Iverson. Though AI was 2k’s cover athlete for four straight years (1999-2002), his very first stint as the cover athlete is definitely the most iconic one. NBA 2k, which was initially released for Dreamcast, broke out and immediately set the tone for the franchise and picked the up and coming Iverson to spearhead their brand. It was the perfect timing for the brand as AI would have himself his breakout season that year, making it to his first all-star team and leading the Philadelphia 76ers to the playoffs. Iverson would also end up as the only player that season to receive an MVP vote aside from Shaquille O’Neal.

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo (NBA 2k19)

NBA 2k19 broke a lot of boundaries in the franchise and one of which was picking their first-ever international player to be that year’s cover athlete – none other than Milwaukee Bucks franchise player Giannis Antetokounmpo. It was also the first time the brand decided to feature words and phrases as a background to the superstar (also seen in that year’s Anniversary Edition cover featuring LeBron James). It was another smart pick by the brand as “The Greek Freak” would go on to dominate the 2018-2019 regular season, finishing 12th in blocks, 7th in points, 6th in rebounds as that year’s league MVP.

3. Kevin Garnett (NBA 2k9)

“Anything is possible”, cried Boston Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett after he led the Celtics to a historic championship run in 2008. And yes, even being part of NBA 2k’s cover athlete history is possible if you’re KG. After bringing home the Larry O’Brien trophy and winning the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, NBA 2k chose the South Carolina-native to be the cover athlete for NBA 2k9. He was already on the twilight of his career so the cover honors from NBA 2k just came in time for The Big Ticket.

2. Kobe Bryant (NBA 2k10)

Kobe Bryant was finally picked as NBA 2k’s cover athlete in 2009 after quite a season. You can’t win your fourth NBA title with Finals MVP honors and not make the cover. This was also the year that NBA 2k reportedly took over the basketball gaming landscape overtaking it’s competitors and the brand couldn’t have picked anyone better than Kobe to cement itself as the best virtual game in the basketball world. Along with 2k, Kobe brought his Lakers back to the NBA Finals that season and won his fifth and last NBA Championship ring.  

Michael Jordan (NBA 2k12)

Last but not least is the GOAT himself, Michael Jordan. MJ was actually one of three legends picked by the brand to be that year’s cover athletes. NBA greats Magic Johnson and Larry Bird completed the trio as NBA 2k used these legends to usher in a new mode in the game called “NBA’s Greatest” where users get to pick from a wide range of historic players and teams, including Jordan’s Bulls, Magic’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics. Claiming the market-share leader role in the virtual basketball universe for the past few years, it was a no-brainer for NBA 2k to go with Jordan.