EA Sports made it a hot line; 2K’s making it a hot song
In September 2017, NBA Live 18 became the first video game to officially feature WNBA players. You couldn’t play a season with them, nor could you make any edits, but you could play games featuring all 12 WNBA teams and rosters. In some cases, the players even kind of looked like their real-life selves. The once-dominant NBA Live series is long removed from being the flagship for basketball games, so it wasn’t as if the valiant effort resulted in anything substantial for the success of the series since 2K is a more immersive and flatly better overall game to play. It has been since at least the late 2000s.
EA Sports doubled down on WNBA players for its next installment, NBA Live 19, where you could also create a woman player for the first time ever. The woman couldn’t play in the WNBA and was part of 2K’s “The One” feature, where your created character, man or woman, could play in a number of famous parks across the world like Dyckman in New York City, Venice Beach in California, Quai 54 in Paris, France, and the Tenement in The Philippines, among many other locales. You could also play in different summer leagues, such as The Drew League. We haven’t seen an NBA Live game since, and NBA 2K has taken advantage.
In NBA 2K20, WNBA players were finally welcomed to the series, and you could even play a full season with any team. You could also trade and release players to build your own rosters, and the teams were later updated to include members of the 2020 WNBA Draft, like Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty and Satou Sabally of the Dallas Wings. You couldn’t create any women to play, though, nor could you edit features from any of the current players or have a full-on franchise mode with them beyond one season.
You could create a WNBA player in NBA 2K21 and have a MyCareer experience, as many did, but only on next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles. Many had a hard time obtaining these consoles, however. (Many still do.)
But today, not only will those features inevitably return to the next-gen, the announcing of the covers indicate much more could be on the way. Chicago Sky forward, former Los Angeles Spark, TNT personality, and all-around legend Candace Parker is among those gracing the cover of the forthcoming NBA 2K22 game. It even appears that Parker will front the next-gen version, according to some posts. NBA 2K’s official account revealed that the other covers feature Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić, as well as an NBA 75-year-anniversary edition featuring Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, soon-to-be Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, and future Hall of Famer (and current Brooklyn Net) Kevin Durant. The anniversary cover was leaked earlier this month.
It’s been a long time coming, and Parker reveled in yet another accomplishment in a lengthy (but warranted, of course) Instagram post, which is a long version of her Twitter statement.
“Extremely proud and humbled to be the first female cover athlete in the history of 2K,” she acknowledged. “I’m honored to work with a company that’s investing in women and betting on us to succeed. Being a player in 2K was a dream of mine; having the privilege to be a broadcaster in 2K was a goal of mine; and now being on the cover brings it all full circle. I don’t take any of this for granted and I appreciate all of those who came before me and laid the groundwork for this moment. I’m hopeful there will be many more badass females to follow 💪🏽💪🏽”
Parker’s been at the forefront of a growing WNBA video game initiative within the 2K umbrella, and it’s only right that she continues her trailblazing ways as a meaningful representative of this step in the video-game universe. And how fitting that on the day the WNBA will play its All-Star Game on ESPN, which features Parker’s sixth appearance, this gets officially announced.
NBA 2K22 is set for a September 10 release.