In a move poised to shake up the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for an impressive package built around point guard Isaiah Thomas. It’s perhaps the biggest NBA story this offseason, but in the world of NBA 2K18, Irving’s departure is more than a bit awkward considering that he is the game’s cover star.
Irving was revealed as the cover athlete in early June, right before the Cavs were gearing up for a third straight NBA Finals appearance against the Golden State Warriors. His rise to the cover made sense. He’s a four-time NBA All-Star through just six seasons of play, and he made one of the most iconic shots in NBA Finals history in 2016 to help seal the Cavs’ first championship.
Sadly for Cavs fans, Irving formally requested a trade in a meeting with team owner Dan Gilbert on July 7. After more than a month of exploring the market, Gilbert did the inevitable, pulling the trigger on a trade to send Irving to the Cavs’ biggest conference rival.
2K Games initially went with a lighthearted approach on Twitter.
— NBA 2K 2K18 (@NBA2K) August 22, 2017
The NBA 2K series has been increasingly dedicated to authenticity as the series has evolved. An inaccurate cover certainly isn’t ideal. In a statement to Game Informer, senior vice president of basketball operations Jason Argent said, “Fans should be thrilled to know that we will issue a version of 2K18 featuring Kyrie in a Boston Celtics uniform at a later date.”
As we thought when we originally reported the situation, modifying the cover this close to the game’s September 19 launch would be a daunting task. Judging by the statement, if you pick up 2K18 at or around launch, Kyrie will be in his old Cavs uniform on the cover. While a timeline wasn’t given, it appears that subsequent printings of the game will be corrected.
Not all NBA 2K18 covers will be inaccurate at launch, though. NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal appears on the Legend and Legend Gold editions, and Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan is on the Canadian cover.
We’ve talked about the Madden Curse extensively, but could there be an NBA 2K curse? Unlike the Madden curse, which has had its cover stars see drops in performance or season-altering injuries, the NBA 2K curse involves players switching jerseys.
NBA 2K14 cover star LeBron James left the Miami Heat to rejoin his hometown Cavs after the 2014 season. NBA 2K15 cover star Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors after the 2015 season. And NBA 2K17 cover star Paul George, after declaring his intentions to leave the Indiana Pacers at the end of his contract, was flipped to the Thunder earlier this summer.
The difference with Irving is that his jersey swap occurred before his cover athlete year began. It’s an awkward situation all around.
Updated: Added information about 2K Games updating the cover to reflect the Kyrie Irving trade.