NBA2K12: Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird on covers
The only benefit of a prolonged NBA lockout points to one thing and one thing only: It'll give fans more time to play NBA video games, such as NBA 2K12.
With the possibility of a work stoppage eating into the season, NBA2K12's Oct. 4 release for PlayStation 3, PlayStation2, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP and Windows PC should give some Laker fans release for reasons beyond just giving themselves something to occupy their time. That's because this year's game features Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan on three separate covers, serving as a followup to last year's game that featured Jordan on the cover.
"We wanted to bring Jordan back because we loved what he did for the game and we loved what he did for the fans," said Jason Argent, the vice president of marketing for 2K Sports. "But how do you take that up to the next level? Our answer was you include him and bring him back and add a couple other contemporaries of his that we believe were the other great legends of that time."
Naturally, this raises the strong possibility that Johnson will be featured in the actual game much like the way Jordan was in last year's edition. Some of those options included playing with the Chicago Bulls' teams in Jordan's era and acquiring Jordan on your own favorite team.
Argent remained coy about what role Jordan, Johnson and Bird will play, but it's not a stretch to think it will be possible to relive Johnson stepping in at center in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, Johnson's triple double in Game 6 the 1982 NBA Finals against the Sixers or his skyhook in Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.
"I will say Bird and Magic are definitely in the game," said Argent, who said the company plans to announce the exact features sometime next week. "What you're referring to with the Jordan Challenge and his integration in last year's game was something we really are proud of, so the spirit of that was a guide for us in developing the features for this game. I'll leave it at that."
Regulars of The Times' Lakers blog are familiar with the NBA 2K series since I ran their game simulations for the team's playoff series the past two seasons. Some were on the mark, such as when they correctly predicted that the Lakers would lose, 109-100, in Game 1 of their first-round series against New Orleans. Some gave the Lakers too much credit, such as when the simulation predicted the Lakers would beat the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals in six games. And some doubted the Lakers' abilities, such as when the simulation thought the Boston Celtics would beat the Lakers in five games in the 2010 NBA Finals.
But plenty of players, Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest among them, like the game because of its realistic game play, something that may come in handy when there aren't any real games to play.
"Jordan & Bird - 2 greatest to ever play! So honored to be on the @2KSports 2K12 cover w/ them!," Johnson tweeted. "Jordan was the greatest in the air & Larry the greatest on the ground (because he can't jump-ha)."
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Photo: NBA2K12 will feature three different covers, including ones on Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. Credit NBA2K12