Last week, ESPN quoted sources as saying that the greatest player in basketball history, Michael Jordan, will be on the cover of NBA 2K11, this year's installment of 2K Sports' venerated basketball franchise. Today, 2K Sports confirmed the news to CNBC, calling the agreement with Jordan "the most ridiculous win of all-time [sic]." It's certainly a big deal -- Jordan's business manager, Estee Portnoy, noted that his last appearance in a videogame came in 2004, and because he had a special licensing agreement with the NBA, he almost never appeared in videogames during his career.
Jordan, who retired in 2003 and is currently the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, seems jazzed about getting back into videogames; he implied that he will be in the game as well as on its cover, saying that he's "looking forward to getting back out on the court, virtually." But 2K isn't revealing much about that, except to say that we should expect "some really good surprises." The announcement itself is pretty damn surprising, especially since it comes during a week in which 2K Sports' main rival, EA Sports, unveiled a hockey game for the Wii whose cover features that particular sport's greatest player ever, Wayne Gretzky.
It's also a big deal because Jordan remains one of the world's most marketable names: Nike's Jordan line of sneakers is still the best-selling premium basketball shoe brand in America, and he also has deals with companies such as Hanes and Gatorade. Speaking of marketing, you really have to hand it to 2K Sports this year -- first, they made headlines by giving away $1 million for a perfect game in Major League Baseball 2K10, and now, they've signed one of the best-known athletes ever.
NBA 2K11 will launch on October 5th.