It's one thing to appear on the cover of a magazine. But to appear on the cover of one of the most renowned sports video games of the 21st century?
Developer 2K revealed in a tweet on Tuesday that Portland Trail Blazer point guard Damian Lillard will be the new cover athlete for NBA 2K21, which will drop sometime this fall. The franchise released new titles annually since 1999 on numerous gaming platforms, but Lillard, a five-time NBA All-Star, Rookie of the Year in 2013, and extremely clutch point guard, will be first Trail Blazer to make the cover.
"This is a special moment for me in my NBA career," Lillard told ESPN, "and I love how they represent all aspects of basketball culture." A huge fan and avid NBA2K player himself, Dame says he's honored to join other NBA stars who've made the game's cover. Previous 2K cover athletes include LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Shaquille O'Neal. For thousands of gamers, the choice athlete becomes the face of the entire season, immortalized by the game's decades-long success. For 2K21, Lillard and NBA 2k are teaming up with 2K Foundations, a program that supports underserved communities by revitalizing basketball courts and community centers across the nation.
The developers could have selected any athlete, but Lillard's performance and leadership set him apart: "From his cultural influence, musical success, off the court leadership and on court domination, he's the perfect fit for our cover of NBA 2K21 on current-generation platforms," shared VP of Marketing Alfie Brody with Bleacher Report. "We're honored to have him."
Meanwhile on IG, Bleacher Report offered this alternative cover art—an homage to Lillard's devastating and ridiculous half-court dagger that finished off the OKC Thunder in the 2019 playoffs.
NBA2K21 will be available for pre-order starting July 2.