Fans clamored for it. NBA 2K listened.
The company announced Kobe Bryant will serve as the third and final cover athlete for NBA 2K21, honoring the late Los Angeles Lakers legend with the "Mamba Forever" edition of the game. Bryant, who died in a January helicopter crash along with eight other people, will be featured on two separate covers.
The current-gen version will feature artwork from his 81-point performance in 2006, and the next-gen edition will show Bryant waving after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game a decade later.
The Mamba Forever edition replaces the Legend edition, the cover of which Bryant graced for NBA 2K17.
Bryant is one of three cover athletes for 2K21, joining Damian Lillard (current gen) and Zion Williamson (next gen), who appear on their respective standard editions.
Alfie Brody, vice president of global marketing at NBA 2K, said of the three covers:
"Each of our cover athletes represent different eras of the game of basketball—Damian Lillard dominates the court today, Zion Williamson is a standard-bearer for the next generation of NBA superstar and what more could be said about Kobe? Three athletes representing the current, future and storied history of the game. Today’s exciting announcement is just the first of many for NBA 2K21; it’s going to be a huge year for basketball fans and NBA 2K gamers."
Many 2K fans hoped the company would find a way to honor Bryant, and several photoshopped covers made the rounds on social media this week. Bryant's name trended on Twitter when Lillard was first announced.
The Mamba Forever Edition will provide gamers with dual access on current and next-generation systems on either PlayStation or Xbox. Gamers who buy the Mamba Forever edition on current systems, which comes with a $99.99 price tag, will be provided with a standard-edition game for the next-generation system in the same console family.
2K will also make the transition to new consoles easier by introducing a MyTEAM Cross-Progression and a Shared VC Wallet within the same console family. MyTEAM Cross-Progression allows MyTEAM Points, tokens, cards and progress to seamlessly transition from one console to another; the shared VC Wallet makes VC accessible on both current and next-gen consoles.
NBA 2K21 will launch worldwide on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC and Google Stadia on Sept. 4. The game will be available on PS5 and Xbox Series X upon the respective consoles' launch this holiday season.