“Being on the cover of NBA 2K has been a dream since I was a kid and to be the first NBA 2K21 cover athlete for the next-generation of gaming is really special,” said Zion Williamson in a press release from NBA 2K.
The selection of Zion is an obvious one. Since wowing onlookers and social media from Spartanburg Day School to Duke to now, he’s been a national draw, one that the NBA and its affiliates have capitalized on. From Nike to Mountain Dew to Mercedes and many more, brands have lined up to make Zion their brand representative.
In a press release from NBA 2K VP of Marketing, Alfie Brody gushed over the 2019 number one overall pick.
“For the cover of the next-generation version of NBA 2K21, we wanted to find someone who could represent the next-generation of NBA superstar. Zion is one of the few young players who has met the hype and can be considered a standard bearer for the next generation. We’re thrilled that he is representing the 2K21.”
In just a 19-game sample size, Zion has lived up to the hype, combining his sensational penchant for earth shattering dunks with numbers unequalled in NBA history. Zion is one of just two NBA rookies ever to average 23 points and six assists while shooting better than 55 percent from the field (Shaquille O’Neal), only Zion’s 58.9 percent mark is the best.
Zion outmuscling Giannis for a rebound is all I wanted from tonight. pic.twitter.com/tpv8Ro06jU— Preston Ellis (@PrestonEllis) February 5, 2020
“Realizing that I am going to be on the cover of NBA 2K21 was one of those moments that I am still processing,” said Williamson over a Zoom chat with Sports Illustrated. “2K has always been there with me. Looking at each cover and thinking maybe one day I could possibly be on the cover of one of these and for it to actually happen is a lot to process.”
Zion follows NBA 2K 2020 cover athlete and former Pelican, Anthony Davis. Pelicans fans were treated to quite a performance when the two went head to head in late February. Zion finished with 29 points on 18 shots in a nine-point loss but frequently gave the Pelicans former number one overall pick more than he was willing to handle.
Here are a few possessions where Zion went straight at Anthony Davis.— Preston Ellis (@PrestonEllis) February 26, 2020
Zion’s mother was given the news first according to Sports Illustrated.
“It was one of those subtle things, like ‘hey mom how is it going?’ and she was like ‘Yeah, 2K is going to put you on the cover.’ And it was one of those things that just grab your whole attention and you’re like ‘what, for real? Nah you are playing?’ And when my agent and my team confirmed it... like I am still processing it. That game is global. Everyone plays that game everywhere. For them to choose me as the cover athlete is a dream man.”
However, Zion won’t have much time to celebrate the honor as the Pelicans prepare to head to Orlando in just one week’s time. The Pelicans will headline the NBA restart against the Utah Jazz on July 30th at 6:30pm on TNT.
David Griffin on how Zion Williamson has looked asides his physical fitness: "He is handling the ball really well and the shooting looks great."— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) June 30, 2020
If Zion can continue his electrifying play, he’ll do more than make true on the hype. By outpacing the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies, he can earn a first round matchup with Anthony Davis and his Los Angeles Lakers.
Zion joins Damian Lillard as two of the three NBA 2K cover athletes. The announcement for the third and final cover athlete will come Thursday. Kobe Bryant should be considered the favorite to land the spot.
Who do you think it will be?
Thanks for reading and let’s geaux, Pels!