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Michael Jordan to grace the cover of NBA 2k11

The idea of a cover athlete for a sports video game is simple: brainstorm a list of current popular athletes -- with emphasis on those with recent relevance -- in the target sport, narrow them down based on willingness, costs, marketability, and other factors, then wash, rinse, and repeat every year.

With Chris Paul set to be a star, 2k Sports chose him as their cover athlete for NBA 2k8. Following the Celtics’ championship run in the ’07-'08 season, Kevin Garnett was on the cover of NBA 2k9. With the Lakers redeemed from their loss to the Celtics in the following NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant was chosen as the cover man for NBA 2k10.

So naturally, 2k Sports chose an NBA player for the cover of 2k11 that hasn’t played professional basketball since 2003. According to a report by ESPN’s Jon Robinson, Michael Jordan will be on the cover of NBA 2k11, and is rumored to be playable within the game. That’s a bit of a rarity for Jordan, who chose to exclude himself from a number of NBA titles from his playing days.

Cool, I guess. Considering the wealth of stars worthy of the cover in today’s game though, it seems a bit unnecessary. Robinson cited LeBron James, Derrick Rose, and Tyreke Evans as the rumored candidates for the cover spot prior to Jordan’s takeover, and all would seem worthy additions to the line. A number of the league’s biggest stars -- from Dwyane Wade to Kevin Durant to Chris Bosh -- have never been selected, and the well hardly runs dry there.

Yet MJ will be the guy, despite the fact that he sits on the bench in a suit (well, a blazer and mom jeans) rather than a jersey, and is more a gimmick than a part of the actual sim.