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NBA 2K18 will get a second cover following Kyrie Irving’s trade (update)

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Was shipped up to Boston a month before the game’s launch

Kyrie Irving on the cover of NBA 2K18 Visual Concepts/2K Sports

Kyrie Irving, who will appear on the cover of NBA 2K18 in a uniform he no longer wears, will get a second edition in his new threads sometime later.

Irving, announced for the NBA 2K18 cover on June 1, was traded to the Boston Celtics yesterday. In July, it was learned that Irving, a four-time NBA all-star and the 2012 rookie of the year, had asked the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him, apparently to get out of the shadow of LeBron James.

Irving goes to the Celtics for their star, Isaiah Thomas, two other players and a draft pick next year that could be very valuable.

The NBA 2K Twitter account noticed the trade when it was announced last night, but couldn't say much at the time.

This isn’t a unique situation in sports gaming. NFL quarterback Brett Favre had retired in March 2008 after 16 seasons in Green Bay, making his selection for Madden's cover something of a lifetime achievement award. But Favre later reconsidered and, in August 2008 — four days before Madden NFL 09 launched — the Packers traded him to the New York Jets. EA Sports later made a new copy of the cover showing Favre in a Jets uniform for fans to download and print.

For NBA 2K18, a new cover image should be easy to swap in. In what’s either a happy coincidence or a remarkable piece of far-sightedness, the artist of the NBA 2K18 packshot obscures the Cavaliers’ uniform lettering with Irving’s right arm.

There are two other NBA stars on NBA 2K18 boxes. Three-time NBA all-star DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors is on the box that is shipping to Canada. And NBA 2K18's deluxe Legend Edition features Shaquille O'Neal, the star of 1996's Kazaam.

Update: In a revised statement, Jason Argent, 2K's senior vice president for basketball operations, specified that Irving would star on “a version of 2K18 featuring Kyrie in a Boston Celtics uniform”meaning a product that goes on shelves and not just a replacement cover to slip in a case. Argent didn’t say when that version would come out specifically. This post had speculated that it would be a new printed cover only, and has since been revised.