Does Michael Jordan Deserve To Be On The Cover of NBA 2K11?
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know…I’m a little crazy for even proposing this question. But late last week, 2K Sports announced that they were putting Michael Jordan on the cover of NBA 2K11 in October. And I waited for someone else to say something. Figured that, eventually, someone else would say something. Expected someone else to say something. But no one did. So I’m going to say it: MJ should not be featured on the cover of NBA 2K11.
For starters, I was a huge MJ fan during his playing days. I still root for the Bulls to this day—which is, admittedly, a little easier to admit now that it looks like they’ll be in the LeBron James sweepstakes next month. I get into arguments defending MJ’s skills versus the next generation of ballers. So you can’t accuse me of hating on the guy. In fact, I haven’t played 2K in a few seasons and the presence of MJ on the cover might actually pique my interest enough to get me to play the 2011 version of the game. After all, MJ was almost never featured in video games when I was growing up, so it’d be nice to give the guy a trial run on my Xbox.
That said, he still doesn’t deserve the honor. Not at this point in his career. Because right now, his career doesn’t involve playing basketball—it involves owning a basketball team. It involves signing players to the Charlotte Bobcats, implementing better business practices within the organization and (hopefully) changing that terrible team name and making Charlotte the place to be for NBA players.
My reasoning goes beyond just that, too. The 2011 version of NBA 2K isn’t an anniversary edition. Last year’s NBA 2K10 was the 10th anniversary of the game and 2K decided to throw Kobe Bryant on the cover of that. So this isn’t some celebration of the game of basketball that 2K is using MJ to spearhead. The Kobe cover had also established a precedent for selecting cover players. For NBA 2K9, 2K used Kevin Garnett on the cover after he won his first NBA title. So for the first time in the NBA 2K history, the cover was starting to mean something. It was a place to celebrate a player’s great season and show him some respect. With MJ’s appearance, that pattern is over.
The biggest drawback of putting MJ on the cover of the game, though, is that it does very little to generate interest in up-and-coming NBA players. Through sneakers and clothing and his brand, MJ has kept his name alive post-retirement just fine. So, why not use NBA 2K to celebrate a current NBA player? What about someone like Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant or Bulls guard Derrick Rose? A talented fresh face would attract just as many younger NBA fans as an NBA legend.
I get it. 2K Sports is in the business of making money. They’re licensed by the NBA to include pro players, but they don’t make any extra money for taking risks on the players that appear on their covers. They don’t benefit from giving Durant or Rose a shot. They’re only interested in giving NBA fans a quality gaming experience. And with that in mind, MJ is a real draw—someone that can attract attention from all hoops fans.
All I’m saying is that NBA 2K has become the best in the business (sorry, EA!) when it comes to NBA video games. In just 11 years, they’ve built a solid brand that speaks for itself. They deserve to feature the best players in the business. And while MJ might have been one of the best when NBA 2K tipped off, those days are behind us.
I know, I know, I know…it’s Michael Jordan. But, at this point in his life, MJ should not be featured on the cover of NBA 2K11.