NBA Live 09 to have four international cover athletes

Basketball is truly a global sport. It may have been invented in America in 1891 by James Naismith, but today’s NBA features players from countries as diverse as China, Spain, Russia, Argentina, and Zaire. So, as with NHL 09, EA Sports has chosen to go global in promoting its annual basketball title: this year, no North American player will grace the cover of NBA Live.

Instead, San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker will be the cover athlete for NBA Live 09 in most of the world. The native of France, who happens to be married to Eva Longoria, has been the game’s coverboy in that country for five years running, and now he’s making the jump to the big time. Parker is a two-time All-Star and was the MVP of last year’s NBA Finals.

But residents of the UK, Spain, and Italy will get to see their compatriots on their respective localized versions of NBA Live 09. The Chicago Bulls’ small forward, Luol Deng — who may or may not be equipped with a loldong — will be the man on the box in the UK; Deng was born in the Sudan, but was raised in London. In addition to being named to the 2004-05 NBA All-Rookie First Team, Deng was given last year’s NBA Sportsmanship Award, as voted by the players.

Italian basketball fans are surely familiar with Toronto Raptors power forward Andrea Bargnani, who was the top pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. The Italian version of NBA Live 09 will feature him on its cover. Lastly, en España, the Spanish-born Pau Gasol will be the cover athlete. Gasol is a center for the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost to the Boston Celtics last week in the NBA Finals.

Along with the press release (après le saut) and trailer (más arriba), EA has sent over 15 screenshots from the game and the Tony Parker version of the cover, which you can see in the gallery (sotto). NBA Live 09 will be available on October 7th in North America and a week later in the rest of the world for the PS3, 360, Wii, PS2, and PSP.

TONY PARKER NAMED GLOBAL COVER ATHLETE OF EA’s NBA LIVE 09

NBA’s Biggest International Stars Grace Covers in Italy, Spain and UK

Redwood City, Calif. – Wednesday, June 25, 2008 – Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) announced today that San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker will be the cover athlete and spokesman for NBA LIVE 09. In his seven NBA seasons, the 26 year old is a two-time NBA All-Star, has three NBA championships and was named the 2007 NBA Finals MVP. Parker will be the first European born global cover athlete of NBA LIVE. Off the court, Parker is an avid gamer and won an NBA LIVE 08 tournament against fellow NBA stars at the EA SPORTS All-Star Challenge last February in New Orleans.

“I have a long history with EA SPORTS. I’ve been on the cover in France for five years straight and I’ve been playing NBA LIVE for as long as I’ve played basketball,” said Parker. “It’s a real honor for me as a European player to now be represented on the worldwide cover.”

Parker is joined by some of the NBA’s biggest international stars on packaging around the world, including the Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol (Spain), Toronto Raptors’ Andrea Bargnani (Italy) and Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng (UK).

Player Territory Team
Tony Parker Worldwide* San Antonio Spurs
Andrea Bargnani Italy Toronto Raptors
Pau Gasol Spain LA Lakers
Luol Deng UK Chicago Bulls

*with the exception of the countries named below

NBA LIVE 09 is back with new features like Pick and Roll Control, Defensive Lockdown Control, Signature Playcalling and Quickstrike Ankle-Breakers that will make the NBA LIVE experience fun from beginning to end. For those in need of some extra coaching, NBA LIVE 09 takes you to training camp with the NBA Academy that gives you a chance to hone your skills.

Now featuring 24 authentic FIBA teams with realistic team play styles and rosters, NBA LIVE 09 features a FIBA World Championship Mode using FIBA tournament structure, rules and court dimensions. Take your game online with 5 vs. 5 team play, where 10 people can play together on 10 different consoles around the world. NBA LIVE 09 will be available for the Xbox 360™, the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system, the Wii™, PlayStation®2 computer entertainment systems and the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable). The game will be in stores on October 7 in North America, and on October 14 worldwide. The game has not yet been rated by the ESRB or PEGI; visit www.esrb.org or www.pegi.info for updated rating information. For more information, log onto www.easports.com/nbalive09.

Samit Sarkar