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Plugged In

LeBron James is your NBA 2K14 cover athlete

Plugged In

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LeBron, not in the mood for games (Credit: Getty Images)

Kobe got a couple in the late 90s and another one in 2009. Jordan shared one with Bird in 1988, but got his own in 2010. Bird actually had one way back in 1983, then split one with Magic in 2011.

But despite being the best basketball player on the planet for years now, LeBron James still hasn't been on the cover of a video game.

That changes this fall when LeBron graces the cover of NBA 2K14, due out October 1 for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, and PS4 (sorry, Wii U owners – no b-ball for you.) This marks not only the first time James will appear on the cover of a 2K game, but the first time the four-time league MVP has ever appeared on the cover of a sports video game.

And it looks like this:

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LeBron, totally in the mood for games (Credit: 2K Sports)

So it's a little...awkward. While it's nice of 2K to immortalize his famous pre-game chalk toss, the move puts LeBron's head into a pretty unflattering position, unless you're really into staring at a grown man's neck beard. They try to make up for it by slapping a clearer shot of his face in the background, but it's all a bit muddled, especially when compared to Jordan's tongue-riffic cover from 2K11 or the trippy trio of Bird, Magic and Jordan from 2K12.

Still, it was an easy, ahem, decision to go with LeBron.

“Putting him on the cover was a no-brainer for us,” said Jason Argent, SVP of Sports Operations at 2K Sports.

That’s an understatement. Nine All-Star teams, six All-NBA first teams, two Olympic golds and an NBA Finals MVP award should be more than enough to get the guy a video game. Last year’s cover instead featured three young stars -- Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant -- because, well, money, probably.

[Related: Karl Malone leaves Michael Jordan off his all-time starting five]

But now that James has his cover, he’s pretty stoked.

“My friends, family, and fans all know how much I love NBA 2K. I remember, as a kid, getting so excited for the game to come out and see who was on the cover and it's amazing to be a part of this great tradition,” he said in a statement.

He’s spot-on about the great tradition part. While EA’s NBA Live dominated basketball gaming in the 90s, the NBA 2K franchise pretty much dunked all over it throughout the 2000s. The past few years have been particularly incredible for 2K; the last three games each sold over 5 million copies. Last year’s game, NBA 2K13, is the most profitable sports title in 2K history.

And where there’s profit, there’s probably LeBron. Though according to 2K, he's actually helping create the game, too.

“Over the last few months he’s already had sessions with our developers,” Argent said. “He’s been actively involved.”

That includes hyping the game’s pre-order bonus, dubbed the “King James Bonus Pack,” which gives gamers access to tons of exclusive LeBron-oriented content if they plunk down some cash early.

Despite the hard sell, it’s awesome seeing the best player and the best game join forces, especially when that player routinely does things in person that you usually only see in video games. Here's hoping we learn more about the nuts and bolts of NBA 2K14 soon.

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