Ranking the Greatest NBA Video Game Covers

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2011

Ranking the Greatest NBA Video Game Covers

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    The producers of NBA 2K12 have placed arguably the three greatest basketball players in the history of the world on the cover of the critically acclaimed game. They were great in real life, and they're great in the game. 

    In the midst of a full-fledged, game-devouring lockout, NBA discussion often turns to the virtual world. Here are the 10 greatest cover athletes in the history of the NBA video game...

     

    Andy Bailey is on Twitter. 

10. NBA 2K10: Kobe Bryant

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    I'm not sure why this game was advertised and celebrated as the 10th anniversary edition in the series, as it was actually the 11th game, but that is, of course, beside the point.

    Kobe graced the cover and dominated the game. And rightfully so. He may be slowly (but steadily) declining, but he was still arguably the best player in the league at the time of 2K10's release. As such, it was pretty to dominate while controlling Kobe.

9. NBA Live 2001: Kevin Garnett

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    Kevin Garnett was unreal for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He averaged at least 20 and 10 for nine straight years and led the league in rebounding in each of his last four seasons with Minnesota.

    Live 2001 came out right around the height of KG's dominance, and that was clearly reflected in that year's installment of EA Sports' now-defunct franchise.

8. Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Charles Barkley

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    This may not have technically been an NBA video game, but Sir Charles gracing the cover certainly lends to its credibility.

7. In the Zone '98: Glen Rice

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    Glen Rice was a beast in plenty of NBA games in the late '90s and early 2000s. The one on which he appeared on the cover was no exception.

6. NBA 2K6: Shaquille O'Neal

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    Shaquille O'Neal was absolutely ridiculous in the 2K series for several years. His little hook shot drove me nuts. He'd knock that thing down from 15 feet away like he was Jimmy Chitwood shooting in the backyard.

5. NBA Jam 99: Keith Van Horn

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    That ball's on fire for a reason. Keith Van Horn was nasty back then. Doubly so in Jam 99.

4. NBA 2K11: Michael Jordan

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    With a stroke of marketing genius, 2K Sports conjured up jubilant basketball nostalgia for millions of fans with NBA 2K11. Not only did they put Michael Jordan in the game, they built a new game mode around him.

3. Jordan vs. Bird: Michael Jordan and Larry Bird

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    There wasn't much to this game, but it's still an all-time classic featuring the two greatest players in the history of the NBA.

    The fact that they could produce a game with just these two players and still sell a few copies is pretty impressive. Those names carried a lot of weight then and they obviously still do (case in point: NBA 2K12).

2. NBA 2K: Allen Iverson

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    When SEGA kicked off the very best NBA videogame series along with the Dreamcast, they chose Allen Iverson for the cover. He held down that position for three more editions after that.

    Throughout that time, the makers of the game engineered AI to be absolutely unstoppable on both ends of the floor. He could score from anywhere on the floor on offense and made steals look elementary on defense.

1. NBA Live 06: Yuta Tabuse

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    This is real. In the last few years of NBA Live's existence, the makers of the game decided to release a few international covers. Copies of Live 06 in Japan featured Yuta Tabuse.

    I can honestly say I don't think I've ever controlled Tabuse in a video game, but this just felt right for No. 1.