Paul George received a special honor on Wednesday when it was announced he would become the cover athlete for 2K Games' NBA 2K17.
The decision is one that made sense for both George and the 2K series. Not only did 2K take note of George's return to form in 2015-16 following the significant time missed following his August 2014 leg injury, but George himself has long been a fan of the series with many social media posts dedicated to him playing the games (up to and including his Gatorade Recover commercial with Joe Young...or rather that's the assumption).
Jason Argent, the 2K senior vice president of basketball operations, had glowing words for George when asked about the decision by FOX Sports:
He’s proven himself over and over and over again. He’s a great pick. He’s a fan of the brand. He’s an amazing basketball player -- one of the best. He’s a fan of ours, we’re a fan of him, so it was kind of a natural selection.
George succeeds Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and James Harden, who all shared the cover for NBA 2K16. The 2K games began as a Sega exclusive on their short lived Dreamcast console featuring Allen Iverson, but has since grown into the preeminent basketball simulator on the market. The series has been praised for its realism, not only in gameplay, but in presentation, including commentary from Clark Kellogg and Kevin Harlen.
The series has also continued to grow in recent years, shipping a series' best four million copies of the game last season in its first week. It's a great opportunity for George to not only improve his own brand, but is also a great chance of recognition for the Indiana Pacers in the process, who haven't come much closer to a cover star other than Larry Bird, who was joined by Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson on NBA 2K12.
George is the third Pacers player to be featured on the cover of a video game however, though he's the first to do so as a member of the Pacers. T.J. Ford (2008-2011) was on the cover for 2K's ESPN College Hoops as a member of the Texas Longhorns while Tim Hardaway (2003) was featured on EA's NBA Live 98 while an All-Star with the Miami Heat.
While George will be the cover star for the regular edition of the game, it will be Kobe Bryant taking front and center for the game's Legend Edition. This isn't a slight for George though, not with Bryant long being his favorite player, and a $20 cheaper price tag on the regular edition won't hurt his chances to be seen. George will also be the cover athlete for NBA 2K Online in China.
NBA 2K17 is set for release on September 20 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.