Candace Parker will be the first female athlete on the cover of NBA 2K, the popular basketball video game franchise.
Parker will be the face of one of three covers. She’ll be on the WNBA 25th Anniversary Edition as the GameStop Exclusive Cover Athlete. Luka Doncic will be the face of the main edition while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant will share a cover on the NBA 75th Anniversary Edition.
WNBA fans everywhere have been rejoicing over Parker’s selection to the cover. If any current WNBA player deserves this honor, it’s the 14-year legend, 2x MVP, and 6x All-Star. She has plenty of name recognition among hoops fans not familiar with the WNBA and is one of the biggest faces in the league’s history.
It’s a big deal that a WNBA player is on the cover of NBA 2K22. But, not to take anything away from Luka Doncic, who obviously deserves to be on the cover of the main edition of the game, why not put Parker in that spot? Why not make Parker THE cover athlete of the main edition of 2K, not just ONE of the covers?
I know, I know, the game is called “NBA 2K” not “WNBA 2K”. Of course whichever NBA player they put on the cover has more mainstream recognition than a WNBA player. In the business of selling video games, putting a WNBA player could be seen as a way to suppress sales of the game. But, would it? Would big fans (or casual fans) of 2K not purchase the game because there is a WNBA player on the cover? I doubt it.
We have been able to play with the WNBA in 2K for three years now. Do people even know about that? Wouldn’t putting Parker on the cover of the main edition be a great way to advertise and let the masses know that you can play with the WNBA on the 2K platform?
Having Parker on the cover is a great way to bring in people who may not have ever played 2K before. If you’re a fan of the WNBA, there is now a greater incentive to buy the game. Putting Doncic on the cover won’t bring in new gamers the way Parker on the cover would. Nobody is buying the game specifically because Doncic is on the cover (they were buying it anyway). However, there are people that would buy the game specifically because Parker is on the cover.
Candace Parker being on the cover is simply a bigger story than Doncic or Abdul-Jabbar/Dirk/Durant being featured. Doncic is business as usual. Parker? That’s a huge moment.
Parker told Bloomberg News: “Being able to see women on the cover, visible in leadership positions, it helps not just in sport but also just in the boardroom, in business or everything.”
In the 24-year history of the NBA 2K series, the game finally has its first woman on the cover. That’s something special and means a lot to a lot of people. It’s the kind of thing that can have a big impact on someone long-term.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert described the impact:
Since Parker isn’t on the main cover, that means the majority of regular 2K players will probably buy the Doncic version simply because it will be more readily available to consumers. If the Parker cover is only available at GameStop, most people won’t even be given the option to buy the WNBA Edition. Putting Parker on the main edition would have had much wider reach.
I know that we should be thankful and happy for this great first step. It could be seen as “greedy” or “jumping the gun” to propose a WNBA player on the cover of the main edition. But, screw it, let’s just do it. There’s nothing to lose. A WNBA player has never been on a cover this whole time. There are a lot of years to make up for.
My challenge to NBA 2K23: make a WNBA player the cover of the main edition of the game.
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