As the upcoming off-season's class of unrestricted free agents shows, there's no shortage of star athletes in today's NBA. Despite that, ESPN reports that 2K Sports is saving the cover of NBA 2K11 for a storied star from a previous era, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.
The sports network (which is featured annually in Electronic Arts' competing NBA Live series of games) cites "multiple sources" as having confirmed that 2K Sports has landed Jordan to be the game's spokesperson. The report also includes speculation that Jordan could be playable in the game, allowing gamers to step into his Air Jordans to re-create the biggest moments of his career. Even less solid is the story's assertion that 2K Sports is in negotiations to include Jordan's teammates and other players from the era to more accurately depict those moments; that bit of information is attributed to "whispers."
One problem that would arise from such a gameplay mode would be the need to negotiate individual deals with all of the retired players. While a logistical headache, it's a task 2K has handled before. When 2K Sports created All-Pro Football 2K8 without the NFL license, it included more than 200 retired players, each of whom needed to be negotiated with individually.
2K Sports having to pursue all the other players while already having Jordan under contract would reverse a long-standing problem publishers had with the star. For much of Jordan's playing career, he had a licensing deal separate from the one that included the rest of the NBA. As a result, Jordan was conspicuously absent from most NBA games over his career, appearing instead in vanity projects like his own Super Nintendo action game, Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City.
NBA 2K11 is expected to release in October, just as the league's preseason games tip off. For more on the franchise's recent history, check out GameSpot's review of NBA 2K10.