Earlier this week, 2K Games announced LeBron James as the cover player for its upcoming title, NBA 2K19, which is scheduled for release this September. While it wasn’t much of a surprise that the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar was chosen for this year’s 20th-anniversary edition of the long-running video game series, fans are now speculating on whether the so-called “NBA 2K cover curse” will apply to James in the light of his upcoming free agency.
As explained by Give Me Sport, the “cover curse” has supposedly been a thing for most of the NBA 2K series’ recent editions, as pointed out by many a gamer on social media. This isn’t the only sports video game-related “curse” that fans tend to reference and discuss at the time a new game’s release details are announced, as the “Madden Curse” has, in the eyes of fans, affected more than 80 percent of players who appeared on the cover of EA Sports’ Madden NFL series, usually by way of season-shortening or ending injuries, according to Digital Trends.
Fortunately for NBA players who have made it on the cover of an NBA 2K title, the “cover curse” doesn’t manifest through injuries or a subpar season. Instead, it comes into play when cover athletes jump from one team to another, either by trade or by free agency, before the next edition of NBA 2K is released. According to Give Me Sport, this has been the case with four out of the last five cover players, including LeBron James himself, who was with the Miami Heat when he was named NBA 2K14 cover athlete, but returned to the Cavaliers for the 2013-14 NBA season.
One year after James appeared on the cover of NBA 2K14, the game’s 2015 edition featured Kevin Durant as cover athlete, and he ended up leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA offseason, months before NBA 2K16 was released. Likewise, Paul George (2K17) and Kyrie Irving (2K18) all had new NBA homes before 2K Games released the subsequent NBA 2K iteration. Stephen Curry (2K16) was the only player unaffected by the NBA 2K “cover curse” over the past five years, as he’s been with the Golden State Warriors since the start of his NBA career.
Given the plethora of rumors surrounding LeBron James’ free agency, his moving from the Cavaliers to another team for the 2018-19 season will keep NBA 2K’s “cover curse” going for the fifth out of six years. As shown on Give Me Sport’s report, that’s something a lot of fans and gamers have been predicting on social media, with some referencing his move from the Heat to the Cavs after he appeared on the cover of NBA 2K14. However, only time will tell if he becomes the next NBA 2K cover athlete to coincidentally move from one team to another before the next version hits stores, as his main focus at the present is helping Cleveland hopefully get out of a 3-0 hole in their ongoing NBA Finals series against the Golden State Warriors.