Video game developer 2K Sports is giving the late Kobe Bryant a fitting sendoff. Bryant, who passed away in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna on January 26, was announced Thursday as one of three cover athletes for the upcoming NBA2K21, slated for release later this summer.
The five-time NBA Champion and future Hall of Famer (he’ll be enshrined in 2021) will grace the cover of NBA2K’s exclusive “Mamba Forever” edition available on both current (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) and next-gen (PS5 and Xbox Series X) gaming systems. Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard (current) and Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson (next gen) will feature on the standard editions of 2K21. This will be Bryant’s third 2K cover appearance after holding the honor in both 2009 (2K10) and 2016 (2K17). Kobe’s cover nod in ‘16 was only for the game’s commemorative “Legend Edition.” That release came mere months after Bryant’s retirement following a 20-year stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.
An 18-time All-Star and the fourth-leading scorer in the sport’s history, Bryant’s fatal accident this past winter sent shockwaves through the NBA. The league postponed several games as the league mourned the former MVP while tributes poured in across the nation. A capacity crowd attended his February 24 memorial at Staples Center in Los Angeles with former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, mentor Michael Jordan and Bryant’s widow Vanessa each delivering touching eulogies. Sales of Kobe memorabilia have predictably skyrocketed since the hoops legend’s tragic passing.
Tipping their cap to Bryant one final time—and with beautiful hand-painted cover art—was a nice tribute by 2K Sports and is sure to be a hit with Mamba fans everywhere.