On Monday, 2K Sports officially announced Shaquille O’Neal as the game’s legend edition cover athlete for NBA 2K18. The announcement came with a video of Shaq holding a press conference that was hijacked by none other than Kobe Bryant, who was the wizard behind the prompter O’Neal was reading from.
— NBA 2K 2K17 (@NBA2K) May 8, 2017
The video is well done and touches on the history between the two former Lakers teammates. The combo of Shaq and Kobe was a dynamic one for years in the NBA, leading to multiple NBA titles and playoff runs. Shaq was the dominant force few could challenge inside, while Kobe was the one who could take a shot from nearly anywhere on the court. Together, they were nearly unstoppable for years, but the relationship off the court was anything but cordial. As the years went by, the tension has been put aside, until now.
The video teases more to come, with Shaq telling Kobe “payback’s gonna be fun.” Expect a fun advertising campaign out of this one.
Shaq previously appeared on the cover of NBA 2K6 in 2005. He appeared on the cover again the following year for NBA 2K7. O’Neal did not grace the cover of NBA 2K15, but he was featured in the game’s virtual pregame show along with Ernie Johnson, roles that were reprised the following year in NBA 2K16. Bryant has appeared on the cover of an NBA 2K title in 2009 (NBA 2K10) and again last year for NBA 2K17.
Bryant was the first designated Legend Edition cover athlete for the NBA 2k franchise. The announcement was made the day after Bryant played his final game in the NBA, and it was a quick way to make a few extra bucks. The premium version of the game came with some extra goodies honoring Bryant and for use in the game itself. Moving forward, the Legend Edition will probably be a mainstay for the franchise, with a tie-in to that calendar year’s Basketball Hall of Fame class a likely influence. Ironically, Shaq was inducted into the hall fo fame alongside the NBA 2k franchise’s first cover athlete, Allen Iverson. Iverson appeared on the covers of NBA 2K, NBA 2K1, NBA 2K2, NBA 2K3, and ESPN NBA Basketball (a brief rebranding of the franchise that lasted two years).