Ranking LeBron James' NBA 2K14 Cover with Each in NBA 2K Series
Since the inception of the great NBA 2K series, there have been 13 athletes to grace the cover art of the game over a 15-year span.
Yep, you read that right. 15 years and 13 athletes.
That's because Allen Iverson dominated the series in the early 2000s and multiple athletes were featured on the cover the past two seasons.
It's time for Iverson, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Larry Bird and the rest to step aside, because it's LeBron James' turn to dominate the cover art for the 2K series as it races toward the next generation.
Where does this upcoming year's cover art rank against all the rest? You'll have to read on to see if LeBron can win yet another championship this year.
Rankings are based on aesthetic appeal, overall artistic design and connection with the cover athlete.
15. NBA 2K6: Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O'Neal starts off these rankings with one of the least inspired video game covers of all time.
The first thing that stands out here is the odd shading around Shaq, with the blank stare on his face coming in a close second in terms of oddities on this cover.
I'm assuming the picture 2K games used for this artwork is real, but it's also odd that Shaq is dribbling the ball about seven feet in the air, right around his eye level.
This cover art is boring, bland and certainly the worst in the series.
14. NBA 2K5: Ben Wallace
The worst part of the NBA 2K7 cover is the super cheesy re-print autograph at the bottom of the artwork.
I mean, come on, who's going to buy NBA 2K7 because there's a printed autograph from Ben Wallace? I'm sure there were a few Detroit Pistons fans who did, but aside from them, I doubt anyone was reeled in because of the signature.
That aside though, the only reason this isn't he worst is because Wallace at least looks like he's doing what he did best in the photo—dominating the boards.
His afro also doesn't hurt his cause, but aside from that this cover is generic, over done and somewhat comical.
13. NBA 2K7
There are three things wrong with this cover.
1. Shaquille O'Neal has a Fu Manchu/mustache/goatee.
2. Shaq looks absolutely confused and nervous about what ever is going on to his left.
3. He looks older than old in the cover.
That's really all you need to know to understand why this cover isn't higher on the list.
12. NBA 2K3
2K Games really has an affinity for having their cover athletes look off to their left, don't they?
For some reason, Allen Iverson graced the cover of the first five games in this series, and this one is by far his worst outing.
I do like the addition of the headband and more importantly the finger sleeve, but it's overshadowed by the enormous NBA 2K3 logo that is covering the beginning of the 76ers logo on his jersey.
It's another generic outing by the guys and gals at 2K games.
11. NBA 2K2
I could go on and on about the fact that Iverson is once again cut in half by the 2K logo, and he's looking longingly off to the left.
But the most important oddity of this photo is the sweaty look Iverson has on his forehead and the odd shimmering orange glow around him.
While that is strange looking, it is somewhat endearing because it makes it stand out that much more. It makes the cover not as generic as others, but it's still not enough to push this one into the top 10.
10. NBA 2K8
In 2008, 2K Games finally decided to have their cover athletes look a different direction than left.
The photo of Chris Paul is enhanced by the artistic lines coming from his feet, pointing to his greatest asset—speed. But that's where it stops.
Instead of utilizing background artwork more, they decided to just keep it around Paul's generic white shoe and that enhances the bland look of this cover.
9. NBA 2K13
2K Games stepped up their game by dishing out a cover with multiple athletes, but they made one big snafu and that was including a player who wouldn't play a single game that season.
Sure, there's no way that the folks at 2K could've known that Rose was going to sit out the entire 2012-13 season, but they shouldn't have taken the risk on putting him on the cover.
This one is also held back by the fact that Kevin Durant and Rose seem to be throwing down the exact same dunk. It's like they are the same player, just wearing different jerseys.
The nice artistic touches around the players and the floor underneath them certainly enhance this cover and keep it in the top 10.
8. NBA 2K
Here stands the original NBA 2K cover.
I'd love to put it higher based solely on nostalgia, but I can't because Iverson's face in the background creeps me out.
Considering this came out in 2000, the cover isn't all that awful. But the background looks more like part of a WWE wrestler's intro video than the cover of a video game.
It's nice to see Iverson in an action shot though instead of just staring longingly off to the left like his other covers. 2K Games got things started off well then took a few steps back after their inaugural cover.
7. NBA 2K11
Michael Jordan made his glorious debut in NBA games in NBA 2K11, and while the game, and Jordan's moments, were absolutely amazing, the cover wasn't exactly on the same level.
The main reason why is because of the goofy look on Jordan's face.
Sure, sticking his tongue out is his "thing", but what 2K Games encapsulated in the photo isn't really representative of Jordan's classic look.
Like a few other covers, the cluttered background detracts from the focus on Jordan and it ends up just looking over complicated.
If Jordan is going to be declared the "greatest of all time" on the cover, the cover better match that statement. And the 2K11 cover failed to reach that level of greatness.
6. NBA 2K1
Allen Iverson is at it again, and this time he's finally not blankly staring off to the left.
Finally, Iverson is on the cover in an action shot, with some cool shadow drops of himself behind him.
This cover isn't that complex, but it certainly gets the job done.
The only odd part about this one is the statistics in the background, and his name that looks to be a bit more featured than the rest of the text.
5. NBA 2K12
Entire the 1980s and 1990s for the No. 5 spot on this list.
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird graced the covers of NBA 2K12 and they certainly didn't disappoint.
Much like other covers though, the artistic approach detracts from the cover. Instead of helping the cover athlete stand out, the paint fading from the player distracts and shifts the focal point away from where it should be.
While I want to put this cover higher on the list because of the all-time star factor, I can't because of the cluttered look of all of the covers. It would've been nice to see different backgrounds with each different player instead of just copying and pasting the artistic flow.
4. NBA 2K9
We all know Kevin Garnett is one of the most insane and intense players in the history of the NBA.
Well, this NBA 2K9 cover perfectly captures that thanks to the look on his face and the mid-chest pump that's captured.
I'm not a huge fan of the background art behind KG though and that's what keeps him from being higher on this list.
This cover would've looked better with a solid black background to put the sole focus on Garnett and his classic pose. Less would've been more here for KG and 2K Games.
3. NBA 2K14
The main reason why the NBA 2K14 cover isn't higher than the No. 3 spot on this list is because of the huge opaque photo of LeBron James' face in the background.
Aside from that, it's a great cover though. Not only does it perfectly depict LeBron, it also focuses on an iconic pregame ritual that LeBron has made famous.
Capturing historic moments that perfectly depict the cover athlete is a great way to stand out amongst the rest and 2K14 did just that.
You can't see it in the photo included, but the placement of "LeBron 6 James" is rather odd, and it detracts from the overall quality of the cover art.
2. NBA 2K10
Kobe Bryant is one step away from being on the best 2K cover of all time, but No. 2 will have to do.
The NBA 2K10 cover perfectly captures a classic Kobe moment and it isn't at all cluttered by too much background art like many other covers.
It's a great balance between a focus on the athlete and background colors that only enhance the focus on the athlete.
Unlike 2K's previous covers, this one doesn't have a cheesy glow around the player, and they just let the picture do all the talking. Solid stuff from 2K Games and the Black Mamba on this one.
1. NBA 2K4
I'm not sure if ESPN had anything to do with this cover for NBA 2K4, but if they did, hats off to them.
This cover is simple. It's not overdone with overly artistic flow, and most importantly it's a perfect reflection of the athlete on the cover.
Iverson has the "the world is against me and I'm going to prove them wrong" look on his face, and that's exactly the kind of player he was.
This cover proves that sometimes less is more, especially when the cover athlete's persona is perfectly complimented.
I wouldn't hate seeing a cover like this with a current player for NBA 2K15. Maybe LeBron will be up for another run at the "best of NBA 2K covers" title next season.