Last year, NBA 2K18’s audio designers brought in two future basketball Hall-of-Famers and gave them guest slots — guest slots, mind you — in the game’s broadcast package, like many do for some real-life regular season broadcasts. NBA 2K19 will bring back Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, and add a third: Bill Simmons.
Toward the end of his 14-year tenure with ESPN, which ended in 2015, Simmons would occasionally join the network’s NBA commentary team and studio panel. So this is not out of character for Simmons, who founded and today runs The Ringer (which is editorially independent of but has a technology partnership with Vox Media, Polygon’s parent company).
It’s one more way in which Visual Concepts and 2K Sports show how far NBA 2K is ahead of every other sports video game’s broadcast package — and has been for years. And Simmons, to his credit, does hold forth in his breezy, expansive style with just the barest of cues from play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan, as if he were watching Boston’s Jayson Tatum or Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (cover star of the standard edition) live.
Simmons yukking it up with Harlan is only part of this video. There’s a bunch of gameplay to see from the game’s broadcast angle (one of several users may choose). And there’s a look at LeBron James in purple Los Angeles Laker threads, too.
NBA 2K19 launches Sept. 11 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.