Can Giannis Antetokounmpo Break the NBA 2K Cover Curse?

Jeff Kotuby,

July 3, 2018 9:30 PM

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was recently announced as the cover star for the standard edition of NBA 2K19. With LeBron James continuing the curse he started, can the Greek Freak be the one to finally end it?

Last month, we covered a strange phenomena that seems to follow the cover star of the NBA 2K games. Since 2K14, each featured cover athlete (as in on the box art for the game) would go on to leave their original team either midseason or the following offseason. Fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers hoped NBA 2K19 Anniversary Edition coverman LeBron James would be the one to break the curse he started with the Miami Heat, but their worst fears would come to life as James signed a 4-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on July 1. It seemed the 2K cover curse was alive and well, but then one of the rising stars of the NBA challenged it head-on.

It was recently announced that Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo would be featured on the standard edition of the game to match James’ special edition. The “Greek Freak” recently signed a 4-year, $100 million contract to stay with the Bucks - and it doesn’t seem like he’s going anywhere anytime soon. It seems, at least for now, that the curse is broken.

Why The Curse is Dead

Giannis has been outspoken in his love for Milwaukee since being drafted by the team in 2013. These feelings were again made public in response to James’ signing with the Lakers. When asked by New York Times basketball insider Marc Stein about leaving, he was candid about his feelings for big cities. ““I don’t like all these flashy cities like L.A. or Miami,” Antetokounmpo said. “I don’t know if I could be the same player if I played in those cities.” Giannis reiterated those feelings on FS1’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd.

Giannis is one of the most down-to-Earth players in the NBA and seems to really embrace Milwaukee as his home. It seems highly unlikely that Giannis would consider leaving his beloved city for anywhere else on Earth. In a piece he wrote for, Giannis said of the franchise, “The Bucks and John Hammond chose me in the draft, got me in the NBA, kept me in the team with a role from my very first season and they are my basketball family. Not only that, but already at this young age, they have enough faith in me as a leader and they are doing everything in order to develop all of my potential. From my side, I feel that I want to be playing in the Bucks. I’m not talking about my next contract. The way I feel now, I want to keep playing for the Milwaukee Bucks for the next 20 years!”

If you believe him, then Giannis will be wearing that Bucks jersey for a long time...

Why He’ll Continue The Curse

...But this is the NBA, where the only thing that matters is winning, and with the reported addition of free agent center Demarcus Cousins, it doesn’t seem like the defending champion Golden State Warriors will be losing any time soon. Will it make sense for Giannis’ legacy to continue playing in Milwaukee? This season ended with his seventh-seeded Bucks team losing to the higher-seeded yet heavily depleted Boston Celtics, playing without their key free agent signing Gordon Heyward and current 2K cover star Kyrie Irving. This comes a year after losing in six games to the Toronto Raptors, despite Giannis scoring 34 points in their final game that season. Repeated playoff disappointment, inconsistent coaching, and the lack of free agent appeal could cause Giannis to get frustrated and head to greener pastures. Even if Giannis is saying all the right things now, a man can only withstand so much before frustration takes over, and before you know it, Giannis is in a different uniform.

There have been plenty of examples of talented players leaving their longtime homes after years and years of disappointment. Look no further than Giannis’ cover counterpart, LeBron James. James, after suffering constant disappointment during his first Cavs stint, decided to “take his talents to South Beach” and join up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to form one of the most dynamic “Big Three” tandems of all time. Then, after going back to “The Land” to bring a championship home, James again leaves in frustration, this time to sunny Los Angeles.

Do we think Giannis is leaving the Bucks? Not likely. He seems to really enjoy Milwaukee, a city that matches his personality. But year after year of disappointment can grind a competitor like Giannis, and if the Bucks don’t get this young man some help, he could be gone faster than you can say, “Spanikopita!”

For more on Giannis’ NBA 2K19 cover appearance and to watch the full trailer, click here.


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