The NBA has been the talk of the sporting world in recent days. That is primarily due to the fact that LeBron James finally etched his name into the history books once and for all. His 38-point haul against the Oklahoma City Thunder was enough to see him overtake former Los Angeles Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the highest points scorer in the history of the league.
King James’ exploits weren’t enough to pick up the victory for his Lakers side, however. They were downed 133-130 by the Thunder, and the California-outfits playoff chances currently look in tatters. One team that still remains hopeful of picking up a first Larry O’Brien Trophy since 2008 however is the Boston Celtics.
The TD Garden squad reached the NBA Finals last season, only to be beaten by the Golden State Warriors. This season, they mean business and have picked up 42 wins in their first 59 games. For this reason, the Celtics are the current favorites to win the championship this season.
They are being pushed all the way however by the Milwaukee Bucks and the Denver Nuggets, both of whom are being propelled along by their Balkan stars, namely Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokić. The former has already led his franchise to success in recent years and is one of the highest rated players in NBA 2K23, while the latter is still looking for his first championship ring. The Serbian superstar could win his third consecutive MVP award this season, however.
While Giannis has won the big one, he has also been the covered feature star on the critically acclaimed NBA 2k Series in recent years. The last few NBA 2K games have all featured some of the biggest stars in the game of basketball, from the present day to the past. These players have been the face of the game, and have been celebrated for their contributions to the game, both on and off the court.
Let’s take a look back at the past seven cover stars (Standard Edition) of NBA 2K and the amazing accomplishments they’ve achieved throughout their careers.
The cover star of NBA 2K17 was Paul George, who was in the prime of his career with the Indiana Pacers at the time. George had already won an All-Star selection and the Most Improved Player Award and had been named to the All-NBA Third Team. Throughout his career, George has been known for his defensive prowess, as he has earned an All-Defensive selection four times.
George is now with the Los Angeles Clippers, his third team in the NBA. His first-ever championship ring still eludes him.
The game’s next cover star was Kyrie Irving, a 5-time All-Star and the 2016 NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving was coming off of his first season with the Boston Celtics and had established himself as one of the best point guards in the league. He had set a Celtics record for most 3-pointers made in a single season and he will be hoping to return to former glories alongside Luka Doncic with the Dallas Mavericks this season.
His new beginning in Dallas couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, and he looks like he could be the missing piece of the Mavericks puzzle.
Back in 2019, there was one player on the tip of everyone’s tongue, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek sensation was drafted to the Milwaukee Bucks back in 2013 however, it wasn’t until 2017 and 2018 that he started to receive his recognition when he was selected in the NBA all-star team for the first and second time in his career, respectively.
A plethora of awards would follow, but it would all culminate in 2021, when he led the Bucks to a first NBA Championship in 40 years, winning the Finals MVP award in the process. While 2021 was Giannis’ crowning moment, 2023 could also be a massive year for both him and his franchise.
NBA 2K20 featured Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2020, he went on to to win his first NBA Championship, playing a key role alongside LeBron James and the Lakers. Those playoffs were known as “The Bubble” due to the Covid pandemic.
NBA 2K21 featured two cover stars – Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson. Lillard was in the midst of a remarkable career with the Portland Trail Blazers and had already earned four All-Star selections, two All-NBA selections, and the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year Award. Finally, rookie Zion Williamson was coming off of his first season with the New Orleans Pelicans and had quickly established himself as one of the best young players in the league.
2K sports also released a ‘Mamba Forever Edition’ in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, who was featured on the cover of the said special edition. Throughout his 20-year career at the top of the basketball world, Kobe had established himself as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He won five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs, and 18 All-Star selections. He also held the record for most points scored in a single game (81) and had the second-most points scored in a career (33,643), a total that has since been passed by LeBron James.
Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic was the cover star of NBA 2K22. The Dallas Mavericks point guard was coming off the back of a stellar year in the previous campaign. He started the season by signing a mega-money five year $207m contract extension with his Texas-based franchise and proceeded to lead them to the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Throughout the 2021/22 campaign, Doncic would go on to prove his worth. Throughout the course of the campaign he averaged 28.4 points per game and led his side to the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Unfortunately, injury would mean that he missed the first three games of the postseason. He would return in game four and he led the Mavs to a 4-3 victory over the Utah Jazz.
They eventually succumbed in the conference finals, losing out to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.
The most recent game to be released in the franchise is NBA 2K23, and cover star honors were given to Phoenix Suns’ 26-year-old shooting guard Devin Booker. In the season prior to his selection, Booker led the Suns to the Western Conference playoff semifinals, and he was in scintillating form along the way.
He averaged 34.5 points per game en route to the post season and was given All Star and All NBA honors. The Suns were top seeds in their half of the postseason playoffs and duly defeated the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round. Their season came crashing down in the semifinals, at the hands of Doncic’s Mavericks.