Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is the first cover star for NBA 2K21.
As previously announced, NBA 2K21 will feature three cover athletes. While I initially interpreted this to mean that all three athletes would shine on the same cover, it looks like 2K is instead featuring them on individual versions of the game. The first to be revealed was Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who will be the cover athlete for NBA 2K21 on current-gen platforms.
For the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC and Google Stadia versions, Lillard will be seen performing a skywalking dunk on the cover, as seen below.
In a press release, 2K praised Lillard for not only his on-the-court performance but also his music career.
"Dame D.O.L.L.A. Logo Lillard. Sub Zero. Few players match his versatility on the court, and even fewer dominate the last minutes of the 4th quarter when the game is on the line: Dame Time! Damian Lillard rains fire on his competition and regularly drops bars in the music studio, matching perfectly with this year’s theme for NBA 2K21: Everything is Game."
A five-time NBA All-Star, Lillard has a career average of 24 points 6.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Prior to the 2019-20 temporary stoppage, Lillard was actually averaging 28.9 points, 7.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. There’s no question he has the talent and star power deserving of an NBA 2K cover athlete.
But he’s also 29-years-old which, while that isn’t exactly “over the hill,” isn’t exactly reflective of the next crop of young talent in the league. So it makes sense that he’ll be on the cover of current-gen systems, representing a kind of passing of the torch.
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The next-gen systems — the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X — will have a different cover athlete. And seeing as how these systems represent the future, I think it will make sense to have a younger player on the cover like Zion Williamson, who was featured front-and-center in the initial reveal trailer. We won’t have to wait too long as 2K will announce the cover athlete for the next-gen versions of NBA 2K21 on July 1.
A third cover athlete is also expected to be announced and I assume he’ll be on the “Legend Edition” of NBA 2K21. This version features all sorts of digital bonuses and typically recognizes one of the game’s legendary players. NBA 2K20 featured the recently retired Dwyane Wade. I think everyone is expecting this year’s game to feature the late Kobe Bryant on the cover of the Legend Edition. Kobe and his daughter Gianna were both tragically killed in a helicopter crash in January and their loss was felt by millions around the world.
Details regarding NBA 2K21’s release date and pricing will be announced on July 2. Pre-orders for the game will also go live on that date.