According to a press release, Kobe Bryant is NBA 2K24’s cover athlete, confirming widespread speculation.
NBA 2K24 is honoring Bryant in a number of ways. Not only do some of the game’s preorder bonuses have “capsules” with digital items but the other cover star is a branch on the “Kobe tree.” Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty point guard, is on the cover of the game’s WNBA edition, which was introduced in the game’s NBA 2K21 iteration.
“Sabrina’s ascendance has been an absolute joy to watch, as she continues to showcase her skills on a nightly basis,” NBA 2K’s global chief marketing director Melissa Bell told The Athletic. “As one of the next-generation of WNBA stars, Sabrina has proven to be a major influencer and driver for growing women’s basketball and the WNBA. We couldn’t be more delighted to have her as this year’s NBA 2K24 WNBA Edition cover athlete.”
Ionescu’s selection has come with some controversy, even though the basketball star called it a “full circle” moment for her. Ionescu was a mentor to Kobe’s late daughter, Gianna.
Fans and WNBA players feel more deserving players were kept off the cover, like two-time MVP A’ja Wilson. Other players that some feel other members of the “Kobe tree” are more deserving, including Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd and Dallas Wings star Arike Ogbunwale.
The Lakers legend christened Loyd the Gold Mamba, giving her his stamp of approval by bestowing her a version of his “Black Mamba” nickname.
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NBA2K is making this game in large part a tribute to Kobe Bryant through a featured game mode called“Mamba Moments.” As described on the game’s website:
”Embody one of the greatest basketball players of all time in Mamba Moments mode, recreating several of Kobe Bryant’s most dominant and captivating performances. Unleash Kobe’s unguardable baseline jumpers, technical savvy in the post, and ruthless will to win as you progress through the highlights of his legendary NBA journey.”
This feels like a similar feature that the game developer employed in 2K23, where players could recreate some of Michael Jordan’s career highlights through a game mode called the “Jordan Challenge.” In the mode, there were interviews with players who played against and with Jordan as well as basketball analysts like Inside The NBA’s Kenny Smith.
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Source: Black Enterprise