May 10, 2007 - Gilbert Arenas is a wanted man. For the past couple of years, Arenas has done online chats and talked about his love for NBA 2K, even responding to a question about whether he plays NBA Live 2006: "No. I play NBA2K. It's real, the NBA2K. The other one, now...it's too fake."
I thought for sure Agent Zero would end up on the cover of 2K8, especially after yelling "Hibachi" and hitting the trampoline at the All-Star game to add to his mystique as one of the most exciting and likable personalities in the league.
But as 2K gauged the interest of Arenas, so did EA Sports, and in a flash, Arenas curiously signed a contract to represent the game he doesn't play. To his credit, Arenas is already giving feedback to the Live team about how to improve their game and is really taking an active role with the product, even announcing the cover at a press conference in D.C.
But that leaves the question, who will be on the cover of NBA 2K8?
A lot of people mention the name Steve Nash, but Nash doesn't play videogames, doesn't want anything to do with videogames, and doesn't want to endorse something he's not involved in, so as great as it would be to see Nash's bloody nose on the cover, he's out.
I think Nash's buddy Dirk is also out of contention after looking like such a fraud against the Warriors, especially since it played out right in Visual Concepts' backyard of the Bay. It's one thing to look so inept on TV, but when the people from 2K Sports are watching you choke live, there's no way they go back to the office and try to justify him as their spokesman.
So who does that leave for the front of the box? After listening to whispers from around the league, here are the ten players I think have the best shot at scoring the endorsement deal, complete with odds on the deal coming true.
10. Baron Davis
Why he'll be on the cover… The most electrifying player in the playoffs so far, Baron is proving that when healthy, he's one of the most dangerous point guards in the NBA (think Signature style with some of those fadeaways, not to mention the half court shot!). A few years ago, Baron did some motion capture work for the 2K series, and trust me, that ongoing relationship means a lot when it comes to picking an athlete to serve as spokesman.
Why he won't… Watching him play is as nerve racking as it is thrilling as I half expect both of his knees to completely blow up every time he moves. Oh well, at least if he's injured it would give him more time to do interviews and promote the game.
9. Kobe Bryant
Why he'll be on the cover… The best player in the NBA, Kobe's so good that at this point you hear that he dropped 50 and kind of just shrug your shoulders and wonder if the Lakers won or lost the game. 2K offered Kobe the gig last year but Bryant went with Sony. Will he change videogame teams for 08, or in this case, 2K8?
Why he won't… Did he burn his bridges with 2K by backing out of their deal last year? Supposedly he was all but signed when Sony jumped in and offered more money. Besides, after telling everyone how great NBA 07 The Life Volume 2 was (can the title get any longer, why not throw in random videogame words like Extreme and Fantasy in the mix…NBA 07 The Fantasy Life Volume 2 Extreme!), Bryant might have lost all credibility in terms of talking games.