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NBA 2K covers are a big event – the poster boys of the moment, immortalized on a CD case. Now that NBA 2K23 is out, we thought it’d be fun to look back over the years and relive a couple of decades of virtual basketball.

But first, one caveat: we won’t cover the same game more than once and include optional or regional covers or we’d be here until the heat death of the universe. It’s already over 20 entries to go back to 1999, and we’re getting hungry, OK?

Alright, let’s get stuck in – here are all NBA 2K covers since 1999.

NBA 2K cover

Allen Iverson on the NBA 2K cover.

Allen Iverson

Allen “The Answer” Iverson was the first ever athlete to grace the cover of the NBA 2K series. These days he’s considered to be one of the best scorers in NBA history, so it looks like it was a good call.

NBA 2K1 cover

Allen Iverson on the NBA 2K1 cover.

Allen Iverson

And he’s back again for the next game, which shouldn’t be a surprise for the 11-time NBA All-Star.

NBA 2K2 cover

Allen Iverson on the NBA 2K2 cover.

Allen Iverson

Guess who? He might have been rated the fifth-greatest NBA shooting guard of all time by ESPN in 2008, but 2K clearly rated him as the number-one cover star.

NBA 2K3 cover

Allen Iverson on the NBA 2K3 cover.

Allen Iverson

Yes, it’s him again.

ESPN NBA Basketball (NBA 2K4) cover

Allen Iverson on the NBA 2K4 cover.

Allen Iverson

Games executive: I have a question – who should we put on the cover of this year’s NBA 2K?

Marketing person: I have The Answer.

Games Executive: … And what is the answer?

Marketing person: The Answer.

ESPN NBA Basketball (NBA 2K5) cover

Ben Wallace on the NBA 2K5 cover.

Ben Wallace

Get out of here, Iverson. It’s time for a fresh face and I’ve frankly run out of things to say about you now. After spending most of his career at the Detroit Pistons. Wallace here is regarded by many to be the greatest undrafted player in NBA history. At least 2K drafted him for this cover.

NBA 2K6 cover

Shaquille O’Neal on the NBA 2K6 cover.

Shaquille O’Neal

How did they fit all seven feet of Shaq on the cover? There’s some kind of mad science happening here, clearly. Couldn’t get his feet in though, could they? Checkmate, game dev nerds.

NBA 2K7 cover

Shaquille O’Neal on the NBA 2K7 cover.

Shaquille O’Neal

An upgrade to next-generation consoles and they could fit even less of Shaq on the cover this time. Pathetic.

NBA 2K8 cover

Chris Paul on the NBA 2K8 cover.

Chris Paul

One of the best point guards ever, the player nicknamed ‘Point God’ only gets one point for appearances on the cover of NBA 2K.

NBA 2K9 cover

Kevin Garnett on the NBA 2K9 cover.

Kevin Garnett

Perhaps the best power forward to ever grace the court, Garnett has clocked up 21 seasons in the NBA since his career began. He also knows how to pull a mean face.

NBA 2K10 cover

Kobe Bryant on the NBA 2K10 cover.

Kobe Bryant

The LA Lakers player is widely regarded as a GOAT all-rounder, so it’s fitting – unlike his jersey in this photo – that he’d appear on the tenth-anniversary cover.

NBA 2K11 cover

Michael Jordan on the cover of NBA 2K11.

Michael Jordan

Hey look, it’s the guy from Space Jam!

NBA 2K12 cover

Michael Jordan on the NBA 2K12 cover.

Michael Jordan

Created by artist Adam Larson, this cover also came with two limited edition prints featuring Jordan’s rivals, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

NBA 2K13 cover

Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, and Blake Griffin share the NBA 2K13 cover.

Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, and Blake Griffin

They say three is a crowd, but they all seemed to fit on this cover together, unlike Shaq.

NBA 2K14 cover

nba_2k14_cover (1)

LeBron James

‘King James’ is often pitted against Michael Jordan in arguments about the best basketball player of all time, but Jordan definitely wins on most NBA 2K cover appearances.

NBA 2K15 cover

Kevin Durant on the NBA 2K15 cover.

Kevin Durant

It only took one season of college basketball until Durant was snapped up by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2007 NBA draft.

NBA 2K16 cover

Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Anthony Davis take a cover each for NBA 2K16.

Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Anthony Davis

This tri-fold cover allowed players to pick their favorite athlete from a selection of three.

NBA 2K17 cover

Paul George on the NBA 2K17 cover.

Paul George

There’s no keeping George down. After missing most of the 2014-15 season, he recovered to become an All-Star again in 2016. Oh, and he won an Olympic gold medal the same year. He definitely deserved this cover spot. That’s why he’s screaming.

NBA 2K18 cover

NBA_2K18_cover (1)

Kyrie Irving

Irving made his biggest impact in the 2016 NBA Finals, where he made the championship-winning goal over the Golden State Warriors. In this photo, you can see him pointing at a recording of the event and shouting, “That’s me, that is!”

NBA 2K19 cover

Giannis Antetokounmpo on the NBA 2K19 cover.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

One of basketball’s most decorated players, he’s one of three NBA stars to win two MVPs before turning 26. It’s a shame someone decided to vandalize this cover.

NBA 2K20 cover

Anthony Davis on the NBA 2K20 cover.

Anthony Davis

The LA Lakers power forward and center is an eight-time NBA All-Star and one-time NBA 2K cover star. This photo was taken one second after he sprinted across the court behind him, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.

NBA 2K21 cover

Damian Lillard on the NBA 2K21 cover.

Damian Lillard

Nicknamed ‘Dame Time’ for pulling off last-minute goals and clutching the win, he only just makes it onto our list before we arrive at the present day.

NBA 2K22 cover

Luka Doncic on the NBA 2K22 cover.

Luka Doncic

The Mavericks' franchise leader in career triple-doubles, and the first Slovenian to appear on the cover of a basketball game.

NBA 2K23 cover

Devin Booker on the NBA 2K23 cover.

Devin Booker

A three-point champion, gold medalist, and three-time all-star, Booker was the perfect fit for this year’s game. And what a stylish cover, too! No idea why his opponents all seem to be cacti.

NBA 2K24 cover

NBA 2K24 Kobe Bryant Edition cover art showing a young Kobe Bryant jumping into the air.

Kobe Bryant

2K Games has announced that Kobe Bryant will be NBA2K24's cover athlete. Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020, will be featured in the game’s Kobe Bryant Edition and the special Black Mamba Edition, as the NBA2K series celebrates its 25th anniversary. This is the second time the Black Mamba graces the main cover of a game in the series, having previously been featured on the 2K10 cover.