Paul George Named 'NBA 2K17' Standard-Cover Athlete

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2016

May 1, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;  Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) takes a shot during warmups prior to playing Toronto Raptors in game seven of the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

In April, 2K Sports announced Kobe Bryant would be featured on the "Legend Edition" of NBA 2K17. So it's only right the developers found someone who grew up idolizing the Los Angeles Lakers legend for the regular version.

The game developer announced Indiana Pacers forward Paul George as the standard-edition cover athlete at the Road to the Finals Championship event Wednesday:

George, 26, is the first Pacers player to ever appear on the cover of an NBA 2K game. With his selection, the packaging returns to a more typical design.

NBA 2K16 features three different cover athletes—Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry and James Harden. There is also a special edition with Michael Jordan on the cover and international versions featuring Tony Parker, Dennis Schroder, and Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol.

Thus far, no announcements have been made about international releases.

Regarded as perhaps the best sports simulation video game on the market, NBA 2K17 will look to build on the wild success of its predecessors. NBA 2K16 boasts a score of 87 on Metacritic, tying for the 11th-best title released in 2015. Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 tied 2K16 for the best rating among sports games.

Choosing George as a cover athlete is merited. He's a three-time All-Star and All-NBA selection and one of the game's best two-way players. He is also one of the NBA's best comeback stories, having returned to All-Star form after suffering a horrific leg injury during a 2014 Team USA scrimmage.

The connection between the Palmdale, California, native and Bryant makes them a logical pairing.

"[Bryant] was my [Michael] Jordan," Paul told Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star. "Watching him win championships, I remember being at home just watching the games with my mom, my grandma and my dad and just idolizing him.

"I’m not saying [Bryant's] better than Jordan, but to me growing up, that's who I idolized."

The cover athlete obviously pales in importance to the quality of the game itself, but 2K Sports has earned plenty of leeway with gamers who've come to expect an outstanding product. This is a cool honor for George, who Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders noted is a longtime fan of the NBA 2K franchise.

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

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