It’s been Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neal, three players already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. It’s been Kevin Garnett, who is headed for the Hall of Fame this summer.
A Change.org petition is hoping to draw the attention of the makers of the popular NBA video game, NBA 2K, proposing that Gianna Bryant be the cover athlete for the game’s 2K21 edition. Her father, Kobe Bryant, had the honor in 2010.
Both Gianna and Kobe Bryant died tragically along with seven others in a helicopter crash on the morning of January 26 in Calabasas, California. She was 13 and her father was 41.
According to Noah Brunson, who began the petition, honoring Gianna Bryant would be the ideal way to celebrate both her potential as a player and the legacy of Kobe Bryant, who had made fatherhood his top priority in retirement and had been drawing attention to sports for women and girls as Gigi got older.
The petition reads: “Kobe’s amazing daughter was never able to make her own legacy, and her father will be forever immortalized as one of the greats. Gigi Bryant should be the cover of NBA 2K21. Kobe was an advocate for women’s sports, and having Gigi as the first-ever female cover athlete, she will be given a tribute that will last forever, and also make a lasting impact for women everywhere.”
Hall of Famers and MVPs on NBA2K Cover
The cover of NBA 2K is eagerly awaited each year. Iverson was on the cover for the first five editions, from 2000-04. Pistons center Ben Wallace was the first non-Iverson player on the game’s cover, in 2005, followed by Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal.
LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden and Kevin Durant have been on the cover. They represent eight of the last 10 MVP winners in the NBA. Recently retired star Dwyane Wade and Lakers forward Anthony Davis are on the cover for 2020.
The game has already added a tribute to Bryant as part of its 2K20 game. When players start the game, an image of Bryant appears with his birth and death years.
“Along with the rest of the world, we are shocked and devastated by the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant,” a spokesperson for 2K Games told The Hollywood Reporter. “He has been an inspiration on and off the court to us all, and a valued partner to 2K for many years. We’re inspired and heartened by the ways the 2K player community is rallying together and honoring Kobe — including parades, custom jerseys, intentional 24-second shot clock violations, and dedicated streams.”
Kobe and Gigi Bryant Brought More Attention to Women’s Basketball
The game has never had a woman on the cover. Across the NBA, there is an increasing number of women serving as front-office executives and assistant coaches. And the women’s game is on the rise. At one point last year, the WNBA’s ratings were up 39 percent over the previous year.
That’s one reason having Gianna Bryant as the cover athlete makes sense. As her career progressed, she surely would have brought new fans—those who’d focused only on the NBA and men’s college basketball—to the women’s game.
“Gigi shared his love for basketball and that only brought them closer together,” the petition reads. “Kobe was her coach and mentor, and he even claimed that Gigi was a better player than he was at her age. Gigi had taken on the task of carrying on her father’s legacy, and now she won’t have the chance.”