NBA 2K21 Honors Kobe Bryant With Mamba Forever Edition

July 2 update: NBA 2K21 will feature a total of three cover stars across its various editions, and while the first two are somewhat standard–Damian Lillard on current-gen consoles and Zion Williamson on PS5 and Xbox Series X–the third is something different. The Mamba Forever edition features Kobe Bryant, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 41.

This version of the game will be available on both current- and next-gen consoles, and provides dual access so that you’ll be able to play the game across generations, within the same console family. In other words, buying the Mamba Forever edition on PS4 will also entitle you to a copy on PS5, while buying it on Xbox One will get you access on Xbox Series X. However, this comes at a cost–this version of the game is priced at $100. That’s still cheaper than buying two copies of the game, particularly because the next-gen version will cost $70 on its own. Current-gen versions of NBA 2K21 release on September 4, followed by PS5/Xbox Series X at the respective console launches.

The Mamba Forever edition’s box art is stylized art, rather than the standard photograph we’re accustomed to seeing. The look will also be different across generations–current gen features a younger Bryant in his #8 jersey, mid-dunk, while next gen has an older Bryant in his #24 jersey waving goodbye to the crowd.

This isn’t the first time that 2K Sports has honored Bryant since he passed away in a helicopter accident in January. Shortly after that, NBA 2K20 posted an in-game message that marked his passing.

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July 1 update: The next of the three cover stars for NBA 2K21 has been revealed, and this time around it’s for the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions. Those who buy the game on next-gen consoles will see Zion Williamson on the cover, the sensational, high-flying New Orleans Pelicans forward. Coming into this past season, Williamson was one of the most highly touted rookies in years, although he unfortunately missed a good deal of time, playing in only 19 games before the season was put on hiatus. Still, he was one of the most thrilling players to watch during his brief time, and barring injury, he’s likely to be a face of the league in years to come, making him a natural fit for the cover.

There is still one more 2K21 cover to be announced; we’ll report back once that’s shared. You can check out the current-gen version with Damian Lillard on the cover below. Pre-orders for the game open on July 2.

Original Story: Although the details involving NBA 2K21 largely remain a mystery, one piece of information has now been revealed. NBA 2K21’s cover star will be Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, but only for current-gen versions of the game.

The news was shared by NBA reporter Shams Charania as part of an interview with Lillard himself. You can check out the cover, as revealed by Charania, below, along with the interview.

It looks as though Lillard will be on the cover of the standard edition of the game, but we know 2K21 will have three cover stars. In recent years, alternate players would be placed on the covers of the game’s special edition and international-themed editions. This year will see a different player put on the cover of the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions.

“It means a lot,” Lillard said. “It’s one of those things like a signature shoe, not just anybody gets it. … Every time I come across a game that is my favorite year of a game, the way that you recognize it is by–AI was on the cover, or Kobe was on that cover.”

Lillard was in the midst of arguably his best season before the NBA shut things down in March, although the Blazers were likely to miss the playoffs due in no small part to injuries.

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Given the uncertainty surrounding the NBA season due to COVID-19, it’s unclear what impact there might be on the NBA 2K21. A release date has not yet been announced, but a new 2K game typically is released in October, near the start of the upcoming season. With the current NBA season–which would normally be over by now–only set to resume at the end of July, a start date has not been locked in for the 2020-21 season.

A video teaser of 2K21 on PS5 was recently revealed, showcasing some stunning visuals–albeit without showing us any typical gameplay. Improved load times were also touted for the next-gen version of the game.

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