Featured Gallery, NBA / Oct 12, 2010 / 11:00 am

We Reminisce: Top 5 Forgotten NBA Video Game Cover Athletes

After years of playing with “Roster Player #99″ during Michael Jordan‘s glory days, the real (digital) MJ is finally a usable character and cover athlete of a video game. Thank you, NBA 2K11, for breaking a drought that existed since, what, Bulls vs. Blazers? It was a ritual for me during the 90s to have to create-a-player and produce my own MJ for the Bulls roster. It was always disappoint for me as a youngster having to use the inadequately rated replica to substitute for Jordan.

If you’re like me, you are probably wondering why Jordan waited until now to be on a cover. He told the Associated Press he wanted to “connect to this generation, when in essence a lot of these young kids never saw me play.”

That statement made me think of all of the other NBA video game cover athletes from the past who are rarely thought of these days. It makes me laugh a little as I think back to some of these players. Here are the top five forgotten NBA video game cover athletes:

Drew Gooden, March Madness 2003 — After his stellar college career at Kansas that resulted in him being picked 4th overall in the ’02 Draft, Gooden made his video-game cover debut. Back then, his future seemed promising. That success didn’t quite translate in the League.

Antoine Walker, NBA Live 99 — In a lockout-shortened season, everything was kind of strange. Case in point: ‘Toine being selected as the cover of NBA Live 99. Not that he wasn’t a big-time player back then, though. The season before, he’d averaged 22.4 points and 10.2 boards a game. But it seems like a lifetime ago that he was actually the face of the Boston Celtics.

Mitch Richmond, NBA Live 97 — For one of the most underappreciated players of all-time, it was nice to see Richmond get some video-game cover love in the first place. Richmond had one of the best mid-range jumpers of all-time, and his pure scoring ability was wasted on some bad Sacramento teams during his prime.

T.J. Ford, ESPN College Hoops 2K4 — As the first McDonald’s All-American recruit in U of Texas history, T.J. led the NCAA in assists and won the Naismith and Wooden national P.O.Y. trophies before going pro. After being picked in the Top 10 in one of the best draft classes of all-time, he posed for the cover of ESPN’s college hoops game. While draft classmates like LeBron, D-Wade, Bosh and Carmelo have gone on to superstardom, T.J. is little more than trade bait with the Pacers.

Steve Francis, NBA Live 2002 — “The Franchise” was one of the most exciting players in the League back when he was on the cover of NBA Live. Recurring knee tendinitis slowed him down and he hasn’t played in a couple of years, and last made headlines over the weekend when he was arrested for public drunkenness. Earlier this summer there were rumors that Francis was trying to get back into the League, but there’s almost zero chance of that happening.

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  • http://www.TheProductBand.com Kermit The Washington

    Mitch Richmond…what a waste of talent! He stayed in the Kings vortex for way too long. I guess that was slightly before players started demanding to be traded to contenders and stuff.

    It wasn’t before players started trying to hop on contending teams before their retirement, however, ’cause he ended up with the Lakers in 99-00, right?

  • Knicksfan84

    He got his ring so I’m happy for him. Mitch was my FAVORITE PLAYER growing up. F a Jordan.

  • Promoman

    Steve Francis & T.J. Ford’s attitudes killed their promise. All Steve wanted to do was play buddy ball with Cuttino Mobley and jack the ball. The day the Rockets traded them, Yao got better. T.J. Ford’s game regressed after that spinal injury. He became a jacker and a worse defender. He cemented his selfish rep when he fought Jarrett Jack on national TV about 2 years ago when he got pissed when he couldn’t shoot the ball 100% of the time in a game the Pacers were losing mainly because of him in the first place.
    Antoine was legitmately good but his shot selection is what kept him from being elite. He would take horrible shots.

  • Deez Nutz

    what about jason willams from duke. adam morrison. i think mateen cleeves was on a cover once too

  • http://www.TheProductBand.com Kermit The Washington

    @ Promoman: Funny you mention the Cuttino Mobley trade. It’s funny how Steve Francis was never the same after that. I fear the same thing has happened to Rip, too…this buddy ball thing is a bit much. I know he’s your boy, but dag play some BALL!

    Back to the 2K11 thing – this game could’ve been INSANELY awesome, if not for one thing…WHY IS CLARK KELLOGG STILL HERE?! This isn’t NCAA 2K11. It was better with Kenny Smith, but c’mon, put some money up and get the Czar or Van Gundy and Mark Jackson! Somebody besides CLARK KELLOGG!

  • jeremy
  • Young Gunner

    Can someone explain to me why Jordan wasnt in those NBA Live games

  • Dr. Jumper
  • JAY

    @young gunner
    I’m not exactly sure about the logistics but I know it had to do with licensing. MJ had his own licensing deals in place so to have him in game, 2kSports or EA would have had to work out multiple deals with sponsors and that sort of corporate crap.
    It’s a similar situation with Barry Bonds and baseball games.

  • Promoman

    Jordan did return for a short time to NBA Live in the 2000-2003 & he was in NBA Street Vol. 2. He used to be in them before NBA Live 95.

  • Joe’s Momma

    My goodness! Look how in shape ‘Toine “because they’re no 4’s” Walker looks on that cover!

    And I agree with Kermit, wtf is Kellogg doing on 2K11? He doesn’t even cover the NBA? Guess we gotta put up with another year of Kellogg.

    And MJ was really defensive of his image. So he didn’t want anything about him or his likeness to be used in anything that he wasn’t intimately involved in. Thats why when you get the Bulls on any Live game, the starting 2 guard looks nothing like Jordan, and he was listed as 6’3″ or something and his name was like “Something Player”

    MJ didn’t give permission to anybody to use his image. So they couldn’t even have a guy who resembled him.

    NBA Live was my favorite game for PS, the grey one. Now 2K is my fav bball game.

  • NYK

    @Kermit The Washington

    that’s my pet peeve of the game too, i hate Clark’s voice. it ruins the experience. anybody from TNT or ESPN/ABC would’ve been better.

  • http://www.TheProductBand.com Kermit The Washington

    Yeah man, I don’t know how he even ended up in the conversation when they were looking for announcers. Keven Harlan and….this guy?

    I thought Kenny Smith was pretty good, even though he usually doesn’t call actual games. There was one line in there if you accidentally shot a full-court shot after a defensive rebound and he was like “I think he pushed the wrong button there!” haha

  • King

    Did people forget that Jordan was in 2k2 and 2k3

  • raffi

    i would say drew goods has been a solid nba player. its not entirely his fault hes played for 2342352 teams in his 7 or 8 seasons in the lig. avgs of 12 and 8 in 27mpg throughout his career isnt bad. i just think his rep as a journeyman makes him seem alot worse than he actually is.

  • DCB

    the reason jordan wasn’t in those NBA LIVE games was because jordan wasn’t part of the NBA Player’s Association. so they would have to pay him separately to use him. and jordan was in LIVE 2000, he was on the cover with Duncan and it said “JORDAN IS BACK” he also was in the NBA games that came out during his stint wit the Wizards.

  • NappySupreme

    How about Glen Rice on the cover of NBA in the zone ’99?

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    That NBA Live 97 with Mitch on the cover was my GOAT video game until this year’s 2k. That game was so addicting…used to destroy people in the 3 pt. shootout. Funny that Live 97 > any Live since. Pathetic.

  • A.R.

    @ Sean

    Fully agree 1000% lol

    In all honesty thats why I switched to 2k because I could never find a Live that was as good as Live 97! I was like 7 or 8 when that game dropped and I faked the flu for a week to get outta school so I could play it all dayyyy while moms was at work lol

  • http://www.unlockingappleipad.com Kieth Phoun


  • ab40

    MJ was in nba live 2000 on the n64 on the 90’s all star team. nba live 99 was epic. the music is somewhere on youtube. I kept my n64 on for two straight days to beat everyone in the playoffs with a friend of mine.. ah good times. now I don’t play video games anymore. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.