For the second time in his career, Damian Lillard will don the cover of an NBA video game. Today, he was announced as one of three cover athletes for NBA 2K21.
After the video game numbers that Portland Trail Blazers superstar guard Damian Lillard produced in the 2019-20 season, it feels only fitting to reward him with the cover of 2K Sports’ upcoming game, NBA 2K21.
News broke earlier this morning that Lillard will grace the cover of NBA 2K21’s “Standard Edition,” with the “Legend Edition” cover athlete set to be released tomorrow. Lillard is the first of three different athletes to be announced, according to Bleacher Report’s press release.
This will be Lillard’s second appearance on the cover of an NBA video game, which perhaps serves as a testament to both his longevity as a proven superstar, and his ability to corral nationwide support, despite playing in a small market. Six years ago, headlined the cover of EA Sports’ NBA LIVE 15.
In Portland Trail Blazers’ history, Lillard remains the only player to ever grace the cover of either NBA 2K or LIVE.
Lillard had a brief sit down with Shams Charania to discuss the distinction, and had this to say:
It means a lot. I think it’s one of those things like the signature shoe. Everybody just don’t get it. So, to be able to join the line of players that’s been on the cover of 2K, it’s an honor, because, like I said earlier, every time I come across a game that is my favorite year of a game, the way you recognize it, is by, ‘A.I. (Allen Iverson) was on that cover, or Kobe (Bryant) was on that cover. That was my favorite one.’ So, just to join that group and have that honor is cool. Real cool.
Lillard said that he initially thought he would be on the China edition, or the computer edition. This time, though, he gets top billing.
The only other Portland player to don an outside video game cover — excluding Carmelo Anthony on NBA LIVE 2005 as a member of the Denver Nuggets — was Clyde Drexler and company, for EA Sports’ Bulls vs. Blazers and the NBA Playoffs in 1992.
And so, the legend continues to grow.
On the year, Portland’s five-time All-Star is averaging 28.9 points per game, and 7.8 assists per game on a 61.9 true shooting percentage, all career-highs. He’s also adding in 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. Earlier this year, he was the talk of the NBA stratosphere, for producing one of the greatest offensive streaks in NBA history.
Next month, Damian Lillard will hope to add another number — seven straight Playoff appearances. Until then, Rip City has reason to celebrate.