In the past couple of days, NBA 2K has announced two different cover athletes for two different covers of their upcoming NBA 2K21 video game. The first, “Current Gen” cover athlete was the Portland Trailblazers’ Damian Lillard, while the New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson was announced as the “Next Gen” cover athlete. There was reported to be another cover athlete today, with that cover athlete being revealed to be the late Kobe Bryant, who will be on the game’s Current Gen “Mamba Forever” cover (the game has done “legendary” editions of its cover before which Kobe has also been a part of).
— NBA 2K21 (@NBA2K) July 2, 2020
This was a move to be expected, as many NBA 2K fans have been publicly clamoring for the developers to include a Kobe Bryant cover following his tragic death in January. This marks the third time that Kobe Bryant has graced a cover for NBA 2K, most recently on the “Legend” edition of NBA 2K17 while being the sole cover athlete of NBA 2K10. The only other NBA athletes to grace three or more covers are Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Allen Iverson (per NLSC wiki).
The reveal must be bittersweet for Lakers fans and, well, NBA fans in general as it is another grim reminder that Kobe is no longer with us. However, it’s always great to immortalize the Lakers’ great more and more each day, with this just being another instance of the NBA legend that will be in the books forever.