NBA

NBA 2K22: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks on honour of gracing cover of '75th Anniversary Edition,' modern-day NBA and more

NBA 2K22, the latest installment of the iconic "NBA 2K" basketball franchise, is scheduled for a worldwide release on Sept. 10, 2021.

Aligned with recent years, there are multiple editions of the game, featuring different cover athletes. The NBA 75th Anniversary Edition of the game celebrates three of the game's greatest scorers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant.

In conjunction with the announcement of the game's cover, Abdul-Jabbar spoke at length with various reporters on numerous topics, including his immersion with the gaming world and the continual advancements of the modern-day NBA.

"Being on the cover of NBA 2K22 is just a very special achievement for me," Abdul-Jabbar told the media. "You know, I've loved this game all my life and to be significant in the way that people who love the game and play on games, you know, to be in their world is a real honour."

The NBA's all-time leading scorer continued, providing more context on why he sees it as such an honour to be asked to grace the cover of a globally popular gaming franchise, adding that "I was very pleased when I was asked to be on the cover of NBA 2K22, because it's something that associates with the game around the world, and I've felt that I've earned my place in basketball around the world."

Abdul-Jabbar is arguably the most decorated player in the history of the game, winning three NCAA titles during his time at UCLA before moving on to the NBA, where he won six NBA titles, a record six NBA MVP awards and retired as the league's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a mark that still stands in 2021, although 36-year-old LeBron James is just over 3,000 points away.

"I don't know if he's going to be able to catch up to me," Abdul-Jabbar said of James becoming the all-time leading scorer. "He's going to have to stay healthy. We've had a few incidents where he's injured himself. So, it's all about how long you can play safely without risking your health permanently. And I wish him well. I hope he stays healthy and we'll see what happens."

Abdul-Jabbar later added that "when it gets close, I'm probably going to have to say a few words, and I'll be happy to congratulate him because the records are only there to see how well we're doing, as a race. Any one person who holds a record has to understand that it's a very temporary thing."

After being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1969 NBA Draft, Abdul-Jabbar enjoyed a 20-year career, retiring at the age of 42 in 1989. In the 32 years since his retirement, the game has evolved in many ways, specifically the evolution of the big man, as evidenced by players like league MVP Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis.

Abdul-Jabbar spoke on the growth of the game and the gifts of said big men: "I think the NBA big men will distinguish themselves as they have gifts. So, the ones that want to go and dominate in the paint will do that and the ones that can go inside and outside will do that.

"Anthony Davis is a great example of that. Because the Lakers wouldn't have won their last championship if it hadn't been for his outside shooting. So, that is a new factor in the game and I'm glad the big men are all involved."

While Abdul-Jabbar began his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, he is a Laker for life, as evidenced by his donning the purple and gold on the game's cover. His Laker fandom shone through when asked whether or not he had a favourite big man in the league today.

"I have a favourite big man and he happens to play in LA and wear No. 3, Anthony Davis. I think he's the most talented. Defensively in the paint, he's awesome, offensively in the paint, he's awesome, and then he can go out on the perimeter and be a problem."

Abdul-Jabbar continued, adding that "[Davis] can hit the three consistently or the mid and long-range jumper. So, I would have to go with him. But, as you said, Embiid ... he's tough, Jokić ... he's tough. I haven't seen them play a lot. I might change my mind if I get a chance to see them play more, but I'm going to have to go with AD because I'm a Laker through and through and he's proved it so far.

In an era where many modern-day gamers may not be aware of Abdul-Jabbar's accomplishments, this honour of gracing the special edition cover of NBA 2K22 could implore many to learn more about his legendary status as arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.

It's something that Kareem made sure to acknowledge as his time with the media came to a close.

"I'm happy they are getting a chance to see me play this way. I remember when I was playing in the old NBA, I used to play video games in the airports.

"So, now I guess I'm happy I'm in a game that's more or less like a video game and it's being sold around the world. That's quite an honour and I'm very pleased to have survived this long … It's an incredible honour and I'm so happy to be on there and recognized. That's all I can say, there's not much else to it, man. It's an incredible honour and the recognition really makes me feel good."

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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