It's been a good couple of weeks for Ben Simmons. After winning NBA Rookie of the Year honors at the league's award show last Monday, it was announced Thursday that the Sixers' breakout star will grace the cover of NBA 2K19 in Australia and New Zealand.
"It's a huge honour to be recognised on the first-ever Australian cover for NBA 2K and represent the 76ers," Simmons, who was born in Melbourne, told Basketball Australia. "The Aussie fans are super passionate about basketball and specifically NBA 2K, so it's very cool to be an ambassador for both."
The cover features Simmons in a white Sixers uniform with terms that have special meaning to him written in the background, such as family, loyalty, triple-double, unstoppable, and future.
The announcement marked a series of firsts for Simmons and publisher 2K. This is the first time Simmons will be featured on a video-game cover, and the first time a Sixer has represented the game since Allen Iverson, who was the series' cover star from 1999 (NBA 2K) to 2004 (ESPN NBA Basketball). This is also the first game in the NBA 2K series that will have a region-specific cover for Australia and New Zealand.
With the announcement last week that Joel Embiid will be the cover star for EA Sports' NBA Live 19, this is also the first time two players from the same team will be on the covers of competing games in the same year since Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal did it back in 2005. Wade was on the cover of NBA Live 06 and O'Neal was on the cover of NBA 2K6 when both were members of the Miami Heat. For what it's worth, the Heat went on to win the NBA Finals that season.
The Australian/New Zealand box art will have a double-sided inlay, according to Basketball Australia. One side will have the cover of Simmons, while the other will have artwork featuring Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was announced as the game's primary cover star on Monday. There is no word yet on if the same will be done for the U.S. or anywhere else. LeBron James, who chose to join the Lakers in free agency, will be on the front of NBA 2K19's 20th-anniversary edition.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, Simmons played 81 games, averaging 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists in his first season . He had sat out all of 2016-17 because of a foot injury.
When he did finally reach the court, Simmons broke 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists to join Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only rookies to do so. He also set the Sixers' rookie record for assists in a season with 661, helping lead the team to a 52-30 record and its first playoff appearance — and eventually, a playoff-series victory — since 2012.