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Thursday, May 27, 2010

NBA Free Agency Watch - NBA 2K11

Report: Air Jordan on Cover, Possibly Playable in NBA 2K11

ESPN, citing multiple unnamed sources, says 2K Sports is pursuing basketball's greatest player ever, Michael Jordan, for the cover of NBA 2K11 and may have plans to feature him as a playable character in the game.
Jon Robinson, ESPN's sports gaming columnist, adds that he's "heard whispers" that 2K has been in negotiations with Jordan's teammates and opponents to appear in NBA 2K11. That fuels speculation that Jordan will be playable in the game, at least in recreated his iconic career moments - such as his 44 points and game-winning jumper against Cleveland in the first round of the 1989 playoffs, or the shoulder-shrugging 35-point first-half performance against Portland in the 1992 NBA Finals. Or berating Kwame Brown during practice in his second comeback with the Washington Wizards.
Robinson also notes that, if Jordan does make the cover, it'll be the first time any team executive has appeared on the cover of a sports video game. Jordan is the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
I emailed 2K Sports who, understandably, hasn't answered the request for comment. It's a good bet more on this will be known at E3 next month.
Though up-and-comers like Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans have been rumored for the slot, 2K's cover decision might be motivated by the publisher's need to outdo itself. Last year's NBA 2K10 featured Kobe Bryant. There's only one player to go to if you're trying to top Bryant, after a championship year no less, and if LeBron James said no thanks, only a hall-of-famer like Jordan would represent a step up. 2K Sports has spared little expense or effort to defend its marquee title's top-of-the-heap status, so pursuing Jordan would be very much in character for them.
But when I heard 2K was considering an awesome dunker with ties to Charlotte's NBA franchise, I thought they were gonna stick Rex Chapman on the cover. Still no love for the original Hornets. Sad.

Tampering of a different kind: LeBron, Wade and Johnson to discuss plans together
It's a whole different kind of collusion, and there is nothing the league can do about it.
Some time next month, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Joe Johnson are all going to sit down together and talk free agency plans, Wade told the Chicago Tribune. All before the July 1 official start to free agency.
"(Free agency) has been three years coming," Wade said. "We've discussed it prematurely, at different times. (But) you don't know what guys are thinking and where they're going. I think we'll all sit down, and before one of us makes a decision, all of us will have spoken to each other and (listened to the) thinking.
"A lot of decisions (will be based on) what other players are willing to do and what other guys want to do. So it's not just a 'me' situation here. We all have to look and see what each other is thinking."
Bottom line, they are going to choreograph the dance. They will work to set up package deals.
The players will talk with each other, and unofficially they will know what the teams are thinking (although they won't say that). The NBA has a tampering problem, it just can't really do anything about it. Oh, sure they can fine Mark Cuban or Steve Kerr when they foolishly speak on the record about such things, they can make a big show, but it doesn't really solve the problem.
Back channel conversations are a constant in the NBA. A whole separate network of discussions goes on through intermediaries. Talks that are unofficial because the two main parties don't speak directly. For example, R Nets president Rod Thorn emphatically denied having reached out to Phil Jackson -- and Jackson backing him up -- to discuss their coaching vacancy. But that is an easy conversation to have quietly, with a contact of the new owner reaching out to an associate of Jackson's to just gauge interest. In this case that conversation may or may not have happened, but the point is it easily could have. And similar conversations do happen all the time.
So when the players all get on the conference call next month, they are going to have a lot of information. By the time July 1 rolls around, our own Ira Winderman pointed that teams will know who is available.
But it looks like the players (and their agents) will be picking the dance partners, not the other way around.

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