Try as I might, I couldn’t find the last time a member of the Milwaukee Bucks has been featured on the cover of an installment of a major video game franchise. It seems that, with the stratospheric rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ drought might be at an end with the pending announcement and release of NBA 2K19.
Giannis Antetokounmpo the official cover athlete for #NBA2K19 pic.twitter.com/zsbWzfOc4w— Adrian (@drriiaann) June 24, 2018
As of Sunday morning, the story (as reported by Forbes) is that the game cover was featured as a splash advertisement on the main menu of NBA 2K18, and then quickly removed. The above photo is the only clear “evidence” available, and the quality of the picture would suggest that it was taken on a TV or monitor, rather than acquired digitally (like a screenshot).
This could be the result of a mistake on the part of some poor 2K employee who scheduled an update or a release incorrectly, or it could be a doctored image created for an untold number of “Internet Points.” True or false, the prospect of Giannis gracing the cover of a major video game (played by thousands of people per day) is enough to generate serious buzz, and just so happens to fit in with the tagline for this year’s version of the game (“They will know your name.”)
As an aside, the last time I played 2K was 2016. The combination of new fatherhood and a broken optical drive led me to put my Xbox 360 in storage, but 2K was absolutely my jam. I thrived on the game’s Franchise mode, with the difficulty sliders set as high as I could manage, full 12-minute quarters, fatigue and injuries turned on, the works. I miss it sometimes (recognizing that I don’t have the downtime anymore), and the idea of Giannis’ (mean) mug appearing more often in my home is appealing.
On a more general note, Giannis’ potential featured placement on the cover of 2K19 will further drive his already skyrocketing popularity. Combined with his (good-natured) slander of Mo Bamba and his salacious Fortnite wordplay, there will be even fewer people who don’t know his name very soon.
Giannis Antetokounmpo on IG Live: “‘Do you think Mo is better than you?’ Who the hell is Mo? M-O?”— Alysha Tsuji (@AlyshaTsuji) June 23, 2018
Off camera: Are they talking about Mo Bamba?
“Oh you mean... HELLL no!! He’s a good kid. He’s a good player. But HELL NO.” pic.twitter.com/W5xRgH4Nyv
“I don’t play Fortnite, I just foreplay at night” - Giannis @mickstapeshow pic.twitter.com/wQb6YbAreF— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) June 23, 2018