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NBA 2K14 mode puts LeBron back on the Cavs

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Click for more screenshots (Credit: 2K Sports)

No one’s sure what the future holds for the best basketball player on the planet, but according to the makers of NBA 2K14, the talents of LeBron James won’t necessarily stay in South Beach.

2K Sports has unveiled a new mode in the upcoming game that puts LeBron’s future in your hands. It’s called ‘Path to Greatness’ -- a fantasy future in which James plays out his career on a number of teams other than the Heat, including the New York Knicks and (gasp!) his spurned lover, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Technically, you don’t actually control where he winds up. Path to Greatness is split into two sections. One path, the Heat Dynasty, will play out as Miami fans are hoping, with LeBron sticking with the team for the remainder of his career. The other path, Fantastic Journey, is more exciting, taking LeBron on a whirlwind ride with stops at both legendary Madison Square Garden as a Knick and the somewhat less legendary Quicken Loans Arena as a Cav. Again. Hey, it’s a fantasy.

It’s all pre-scripted as well, so you can’t just decide that LeBron should opt out of a mega deal as a Knick in 2017 and hop over to San Antonio. You’re instead following his fictitious fantasy career and helping him achieve goals along the way by playing in a number of scenario-driven games each season, collecting ‘stars’ a la Angry Birds to unlock more challenges. Remember the time LeBron led the Knicks to a 25-point fourth quarter comeback victory against the Thunder in 2015? You will.

[ Related: NBA 2K14 screenshots ]

LeBron’s abilities will change as he ages, as will the league itself. 2K has created a fascinating future NBA in which stars are shuffled all over the place. Carmello Anthony turns up on the Bulls, for instance, while Marc Gasol eventually joins big brother Pau in L.A. New, dominant players join the league, like the slashing scorer “John Trice,” who isn’t a real person (yet). Unfortunately, 2K won’t be using current prep players, so we won’t get a glimpse of what Andrew Wiggins will be up to in five years.

But it’s a clever way to pay homage to the game’s cover athlete and should serve up loads of fantasy fun for gamers. 2K enjoyed success with this sort of scenario-play before, most notably with NBA 2K11’s Jordan Challenge mode, which tasked players with matching some of His Airness’ most insane performances. Rather than look back, however, Path to Greatness lets us look ahead at LeBron’s seemingly limitless future. Here’s hoping that doesn’t include any more Decisions.

NBA 2K14 hits the Xbox 360 and PS3 October 1, with next-gen versions coming for the Xbox One and PS4 during their respective launches.

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