If you didn’t already know, reports have recently come out that Zion Williamson will be named one of the Cover Athletes of 2K21, alongside Kobe Bryant and Damian Lillard. A lot of people have been freaking out, but that’s because they think Trae Young or Luka Doncic or Ja Morant should be on the cover, and be appointed as the next generational player. Now, I’m not going to argue that, as that’s a debate for a separate blog post. But I am going to tell you a very strange conspiracy about the cover of NBA 2K.
Disclaimer: Just because there may or may not be a curse on NBA 2K does not mean the game itself isn’t good. The game is actually great, and totally worth the price, on any device.
And with that, let’s get into it.
Let’s start with the year 2009. The cover athlete was Kevin Garnett. It doesn’t seem like the curse really affected him at first glance, especially since he won a championship the year before. But, Kevin Garnett lost in the finals in 2010 to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, got traded to the Nets to form a super team that under achieved and traded all draft picks to get him and Paul Pierce, and then had some nagging injuries on the Timberwolves that ultimately ended his career. This isn’t too bad, but trust me, it gets worse.
The cover athlete for 2K in 2010 was Kobe Bryant. He had won a championship, so it kind of made sense for him to be there. But he never made the playoffs again for the last six years of his career, was part of a failed super team, and three years after his cover debut tore his achilles, ending any chance he had at contending late in his career.
In 2011 and 2012, the athlete on the cover was Michael Jordan. Now the curse took to a different form, since Michael Jordan’s playing days were long over. Instead, Jordan became a person for conspiracies to be discussed about, and a joke among owners, as his Charlotte Hornets lost their all star Kemba Walker last season. Oh, did I also forget to mention that in the 2011-2012 season, the Charlotte Hornets went 7-52? Jordan also hasn’t drafted a single all-star except for Kemba Walker, even when others were available. I rest my case.
In 2013, three stars graced the cover of 2K, which means three times the trama. The players were Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Durant. Keep in mind, the cover was announced in 2012, which is when the curse starts to take place. Derrick Rose had a quicker deterioration then the others. The youngest MVP ever tore his ACL in his left knee in the 2012 playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers. Afterwards, the All-Star and MVP was never the same, getting traded to multiple teams and sometimes even coming off the bench. Blake Griffin started losing his athleticism in 2017-2018, or maybe it looked that way because Chris Paul and Deandre Jordan were gone from the team. Whatever the case, the Clippers weren’t doing too well, and Blake Griffin got traded to the Pistons, a team that once was great, but now only had one other all star and wasn’t going to the second round any time soon. As for Kevin Durant, we’ll get to him later, since he was the only cover athlete for 2015. But trust me, the curse affected him too.
In 2014, the cover was Lebron James while he was still on the Miami Heat. He had won back to back championships in Miami, so it made sense. But the following year, he returned to the Cavaliers, and brought them a championship in 2016. But what people forget is that while Lebron made the finals 9 times this decade, his finals record is 3-6. And not only does he have double the losses in the finals then wins, but Lebron James has had teams so custom made for him that he has had more teammates than any other NBA legends. He even has had more teammates than Kobe, who has retired while Lebron is still in the league. From 2011-2018, he has played in 32 different playoff series, and had at least one teammate from 26 of those teams. He makes or has GM’s make sure that he has shooters around him because that is how he thrives. He has played with 6 other #1 overall picks in his career. Jordan played with zero, and has twice the championships Lebron does. Oh, and he’s shooting 69% from the charity stripe this season. The curse hasn’t affected Lebron really, but he does have a few black spots on his career that will never go unnoticed.
In 2015, we have Kevin Durant. He was a league MVP in the 2014-2015, and the most popular player in the league. Of course, soon after, he decided that if he wanted to be the best player in the league, he had to win a championship. So he joined the stacked Golden State Warriors who in 2015-2016 went 73-9 and had 4 all stars. He turned all his love from fans into hate in less then a day. From there, Kevin Durant tore his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in 2019 after suffering other injuries, and was traded to the Nets, where he teamed up with Kyrie Irving, who we’ll get too later. But one does have to wonder how it will work out between two second option players who went to another team to be “the guy.”
In 2016, there were three cover stars, those being James Harden, Steph Curry, and Anthony Davis. The cover date was announced on September 25th, 2015. James Harden did win an MVP after his cover appearance, but has never been to the Finals on the Houston Rockets, and only once in his career with the Thunder. That appears to be the only way the curse affected him; so far. Steph one an MVP the year he was on the cover, but suffered a very scary head injury on May 15th, 2015. He still won a championship, but the next year got beaten in the Finals when his team was up 3-1, had to suffer the hate from everyone who hated Kevin Durant, and now the Warriors. He has also had nagging ankle injuries, and almost never dunks. Oh yeah, and the Toronto Raptors recked the Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals, and half the team had season ending injuries. And in the 2019-2020 season, Steph Curry broke his hand and missed considerable playing time. If you want to see the video of Steph Curry’s head injury (which you don’t), then search at your own parel on youtube. In terms of Anthony Davis, nothing has really happened to him. The worst is that before joining the Lakers, he never had much playoff success and didn’t have any other stars to team up with.
In 2017, the cover athlete was Paul George. Paul George had some injuries before gracing the cover, but had others after. He never made the NBA Finals due to Lebron James and his Miami Heat team. After he was on the cover, he was traded to Oklahoma City, where he teamed up with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. He got reduced playing time and was now out of his prime. After two unsuccessful seasons getting bounced in the first or second round of the playoffs, he joined the Clippers, where he sat out at the beginning of the season due to injuries. It’ll be interesting to see where his career goes from here.
In 2018, the cover athlete was Kyrie Irving. At the time, he was a star in Boston. But fast forward, he missed all the 2018 playoffs due to injury, had chemistry problems, and left the team, all while being hated by Celtics fans. In what should have been his return game to Boston on the Nets, he didn’t play because of an “injury,” and that’s when the Celtics’ fans lost all respect for him. They chanted “Where is Kyrie?” the whole game and they ended up winning. But Kyrie has been experiencing multiple injuries on the Nets, and no one knows what they could eventually lead to.
The cover athletes for 2019 and 2020 haven’t been affected yet, as they were only recently put on the covers, and chances are the curse will take longer to wear them down, now that they are in their primes. Their names? Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis. We already talked about Anthony Davis some, and the only way Giannis has been affected so far is with a lack of playoff success, and making it only as far as the Eastern Conference Finals.
So I’d say there’s a pretty compelling case that players put on the covers on some level are cursed, which means something will happen to Zion Williamson in his career that will either end it early, or lead him to a lack of success. I hope not, I want him to succeed, but look at the players mentioned above, and well; some of them still had great careers, but they had serious downs as well as ups.
Let me know if you think Zion’s career may be cursed, or if all athletes on a 2K cover are cursed in the comments below. And as always, have an awesome day.