One of the many ways to know that you’ve made it in the NBA is being featured on the cover of NBA 2K, the most popular basketball videogame in the world.
Needless to say, just the creme of the crop has the honor of making the way to the cover of this prestigious saga. However, it seems like they’ve been following a suspicious trend lately.
Thing is, apparently, NBA 2K has only chosen disgruntled athletes with a desire to leave their teams to be featured on their cover. In fact, the players have left their franchise right after being chosen to be the cover athlete for the videogame.
And now that Damian Lillard has been chosen, people started speculating about his future. Notably, he’s been involved in countless trade rumors throughout the course of his career. That’s why today, we’re going to walk you through the recent history of the NBA 2K cover curse:
NBA 2K14 – LeBron James
There was no doubt that LeBron James was the best player in the world in 2014. His Miami Heat was coming off a heartbreaking loss in the Finals vs. the San Antonio Spurs and he felt like his time at South Beach had already come to an end.
That’s why suddenly after being named the cover athlete for the NBA 2K14 edition, he decided to take his talents back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. James would eventually lead the Cavs to four straight trips to the Finals, winning the ring in 2016.
NBA 2K15 & NBA 2K16 – Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant made a name for himself as the most unstoppable scorer in the league during the 2014 season, so NBA 2K chose him to be the cover athlete for the 2015 edition. Needless to say, he was one of the most beloved players in the league at the time.
That’s why he even made it to back-to-back covers and got the nod again in 2016. Soon after, however, he left the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors in one of the most controversial moves in NBA history. At least, he won back-to-back rings and Finals MVPs.
NBA 2K17 – Paul George
Paul George was a huge inspiration. He overcame a career-threatening injury in 2015 and then slowly worked his way back to the top of the league. He was one of the best two-way players on earth, so 2K got him on the cover of the 2017 edition despite playing on a small market.
Still, considering the Pacers refused to surround him with All-Star caliber players, George forced his way out of the franchise right after being granted this honor. George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and stood there for two seasons before being moved to the Clippers.
NBA 2K18 – Kyrie Irving
This one has to be one of the most controversial of all. All of a sudden, out of the blue, Kyrie Irving asked to be traded away from the Cleveland Cavaliers right after being selected to be the cover athlete for the 2018 edition. Shockingly, he was traded even before the game was released.
In fact, NBA 2K had to release to different covers because of Kyrie’s move to the Boston Celtics. His tenure at the TD Garden didn’t go as expected and he ended up walking away as a free agent to join Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets.
NBA 2K19 – LeBron James
LeBron James did it again. Following a season full of rumors about his desire to leave the Cavaliers – this time for good, James was chosen to be the cover athlete of the 20th-anniversary edition, which seemed fair considering he had dominated the league for 16 straight years.
And like everybody expected, James ended up signing with the Los Angeles Lakers to try and take the team back to their Championship-winning ways. His first season was cut short with an injury but he’s finally taken back to the playoffs this season.
NBA 2K20 – Anthony Davis
And the latest edition of the NBA 2K curse came in 2020. Anthony Davis was (and still is) the best big man in the world and it was clear that he had already outgrown the New Orleans Pelicans. That’s why NBA 2K got him on the cover of NBA 2K20.
Davis openly demanded to be traded and drew a lot of criticism from his former fans. The Pelicans stood put and held on to him throughout the season, but he was eventually traded to the Lakers in the summer. Will Lillard be next on this list?