The Designers of 'NBA 2K21' Weigh in on the Intersection of Fashion, Gaming and Basketball (2023)

On his 2010 debut album Thank Me Later, Drake rapped, “I swear sports and music are so synonymous, cause we want to be them and they want to be us.” A decade later, in a world where the intersection of mediums is more possible and prominent than ever before, this fusion of the internet, rappers, designers and ball players has created an ecosystem that allows for collaborative art and entertainment to be commercially accepted at an unmatched pace. NBA 2K21 sets the bar for cultural mashups in the world of gaming, where everybody wants to live in each other’s worlds — and there’s no place you can make that dream come to life more vividly than within the title. “My whole thing at 2K now is trying to put all of these people — fashion, music, sports, gaming and all these cultural extensions — together, and understand how we can be a platform for them,” says Ronnie 2K, the Face of NBA 2K. And as for the game itself? Well it’s truly grown into a phenomenon of its own, infiltrating the real world unlike any other franchise. For example, after a 12-block game in 2015 against the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat Center Hassan Whiteside joked that he was “trying to get his NBA 2K rating up.”

At this point, 2K has its own professional Esports league, which is backed by the NBA. Some of the league’s biggest superstars, including Karl-Anthony Towns, Damian Lillard and LeBron James, are ardent fans of the game. So are high-profile entertainers like Atlanta rappers Lil Yachty and 21 Savage. Spike Lee has directed an installment of NBA 2K‘s cinematic single-player story mode. Jay-Z once curated its soundtrack, which has run the sonic gamut from Drake all the way to U2. Now, with the addition of in-game clothing drops, top streetwear designers are injecting their own custom pieces, available through the various apparel stores in NBA 2K’s neighborhoods. The first batch of brands that will be featured in the latest edition are Mike Cherman’s Chinatown Market, Tracey Mills’s Visitor on Earth and Eric Emanuel’s eponymous label, as well as brands like Daniel Patrick, Deon Point’s Concepts, Nicky Diamonds, Palm Angels and SoleFly. In the video above, some of these designers speak to working on the game while showing off in-game footage of Tracey Mills sporting his own label Visitor on Earth, Ben Baller in Chinatown Market, Zack Bia in Eric Emanuel and Ronnie 2K in Concepts. The aspect of community has become overwhelmingly essential in the game and developers have given users opportunities to spend real money on digital currency that can be used to improve an avatar’s basketball abilities or buy virtual drip.

HYPEBEAST caught up with the face of NBA 2K21, Ronnie 2K, to discuss the latest development of in-game drops, the addition of brands like Chinatown Market, Eric Emanuel and Visitor on Earth into the game and what the future of 2K sports looks like from its position at the center of a new cultural conversation.

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Do you find that today’s culture is intersected with the game of basketball like never before, when it comes to music, fashion, et cetera? And if so, why do you think that is?

Absolutely. Gaming culture, basketball and all the lifestyles between — fashion, music, et cetera — are joined at the hip. I think that’s because the players are having to tell a story about their own brands a lot more now. Every time we add a fashion brand or a musician [to the game], these NBA guys already know about them and they’re talking about it themselves. I think it’s because they’re also thinking about the way they promote their own brands through those vehicles. So it’s all very connected because everybody’s focused on personal brand building and the game, along with music and fashion, are an extremely innovative way of doing that storytelling.

Yeah everybody’s really tapped in now, it’s cool to see the players allowed to be themselves. Not too long ago, it was kind of looked down on to bring the culture aspect to the game of basketball.

Again, what’s important is for these players to tell their story and that’s why they’re using their platform in a lot of ways that includes fashion and music, but it also includes social justice too. So whether that’s racial inequality or another thing that these various players talk about, they’re trying to use their platform to change the norm and challenge the things they’re passionate about. A lot of these guys are starting to use our game in the same way, too. So when we did the Black Lives Matter initiative where we shut down the game for awhile, a lot of these guys were participating in that protest of our game, but they’re also wearing the BLM clothing before games and on the court to get that message out there as well.

I’ve told this story a couple of times, but a couple of years ago when Travis Scott was launching his album, Astroworld, he called me to help him with that a few days before they opened the basketball concert in his hometown of Houston, [Texas]. The reason that’s important is because we’re reaching the same audience at this point. I remember he had dipped in the charts right before that and then when we launched the shoes and clothing in the game and Astroworld came out that week — and he went right back to number one on the Billboard top 100 after that. I just think that gaming is a platform for these guys to story tell.

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Why was it important to get streetwear brands like an Eric Emanuel, Chinatown Market or Visitor on Earth into the game?

Three years ago, we had Don C and Jerry Lorenzo kind of lead the way as our two brands. We just saw that people really liked wearing these brands in our game and trying to stand out. So then we wanted to give them more options, but we also wanted to be a platform for aspirational people in the fashion world, so you while we had Don, who’s obviously extremely built-out already, we kind of took a flyer on Chinatown Market last year — and obviously they’ve turned into a massive brand in the last couple of years. I feel the same way about Eric Emmanuel. Tracey is actually a really good example as well.

Tracey is very known in the basketball world, but his brand is not as known and we have to be aspirational and believe in his growth. I wanted to give him the opportunity to get Visitor On Earth in the game. It’s a way for these guys to see like, hey if it does well in the game, maybe I got to think about it releasing it out in the real world. That’s an innovative thought process: to leverage the digital then make the physical without having to spending a lot of money trying to find out whether it’s going to work or not. I think it’s pretty brilliant.

Even getting someone like Zack Bia into the game was in-touch.

Yeah that’s another really good example. I mean, you wouldn’t think of Zack as a traditional basketball influencer, but I kind of thought about signing him a couple of years ago because I knew that we were involving all these fashion brands. We signed a couple of guys in that world, who are known in the fashion world and not in the basketball world. If we could get them to wear stuff in games and also be a connector to their people — like Zack’s really close to Drake — it encourages the growth of fashion in the game.

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Can you explain how the idea for the in-game drops came about and how they work?

We wanted to give our games the ability to express and differentiate themselves in the way any NBA player can through their story telling. Fashion has become a key component to that and, so we have partnered with the hottest names in that space to offer digital clothing options for gamers to fit on their players. We do digital drops from each of our partnered clothing brands and try to align with their corresponding physical releases when we can to be another extension for them in their marketing campaigns. The frequency depends on time of year as you’ll see more during the holidays, basketball events [like NBA All-Star] and fashion events [like Milan Fashion Week, etc.].

What do the in-game drops say about the intersection of fashion and gaming?

Fashion is so important to our gamers and so it was important for us to allow the celebration of those moments with our own in-game drops. Aligning where we can on these moments really allows them to be lifted up in culture in a new, innovative way.

Who’s getting the best tunnel ‘fits off in the game today?


I like really loud clothing. So I’m a big fan of Russell [Westbrook] and James [Harden] and some of the things that PJ [Tucker] wears. I also think lowkey the upcoming Superstar in that world is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. I’ve gotten to know him a lot recently. He’s a good kid.

Are there any other Easter eggs with regards to fashion moments in the game, new 2K merch or collaborations for the future?

Yeah I think that that’s probably the next iteration — thinking about how we connect with these brands who have had a lot of success in the digital space with us. We’ve had a bit of that in the shoe world, but partnering with these clothing brands in the future to release capsules and collections and all of that is definitely something we’re thinking about for sure.

Watch the video above that features the designers from the latest brands to enter the game — Chinatown Market, Eric Emanuel and Visitor on Earth — and head to NBA 2K‘s website to learn out more about how you can cop all of these fire fits.

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Who is the character designer for NBA 2K? ›

Elias Figueroa - Lead Animator for the NBA 2K Franchise - Visual Concepts | LinkedIn.

Who is the owner of 2K21? ›

2K is an American video game publisher owned by Take-Two Interactive and based in Novato, California. 2K was founded in January 2005 through the 2K Games and 2K Sports labels, following Take-Two Interactive's acquisition of Visual Concepts that same month.

What size is NBA 2K21? ›

Storage: 80 GB available space. Sound Card: DirectX 9.0x compatible.

Who is my career girlfriend in NBA 2K? ›

Alanah Turner is a character in NBA 2K17's MyCAREER mode. She is Pres' college girlfriend.

Is Jack Harlow in 2K? ›

Cole and Jack Harlow Enter the World of 'NBA 2K' As Playable Characters.

Who is the highest rated player in NBA 2K21? ›

NBA 2K21 Player Ratings
1.Giannis Antetokounmpo97
3.Kawhi Leonard96
3.James Harden96
5.Stephen Curry95
143 more rows

Who was OG in 2K21? ›

MyPlayer OG (aka MP OG) is the protagonist of NBA 2K14's MyCareer Mode, and a non-playable character featured in the G-League route of NBA 2K21. His rival is Jackson Ellis.

Who is the best NBA 2K21 player? ›

Michael Jordan

In NBA 2K21, he's been selected as a member of the All-Time Chicago Bulls - this means that his stats and ratings never change, so he's always at the top of his game. Jordan's stats are incredibly well-rounded - he never scores below an 80 in any category other than Rebounding.

Is NBA size 7 official? ›

Size 7. Size 7 basketballs measure 29.5” in circumference and have a standard weight of 22 oz. Size 7 basketballs are the standard ball size for men's professional basketball associations, such as the NBA, as well as men's college, high school, and travel basketball leagues.

What is the max height in 2K21? ›

Being able to make an oversized PG in MyCAREER. So, for all you Penny Hardaway wannabes, you have Dame to thank for that as we have upped the max height for PG to 6'8''.

Does NBA use size 7 basketball? ›

How big is the basketball? One of the major differences between the men's and women's game is the size of the basketball. During NBA and FIBA play men use a Size 7 basketball, with a circumference of 75 centimetres, while women use a Size 6 ball measuring 72.5cm around.

Who is the 2K woman? ›

2K Games announced Wednesday that Candace Parker will become the first woman featured on the cover of the popular NBA 2K basketball video game.

Who is your girlfriend in 2K23? ›

NBA 2K23 players aren't fans of MyCareer's girlfriend storyline. Reddit user Jared524 recently shared a screenshot of an objective they must complete for the MyCareer mode in NBA 2K23. The message tells the player about a date they must attend with their girlfriend, Milia, at City View Restaurant.

Who is the female rapper in 2k22? ›

Born in Sacramento, Calif., Kendra Jae started singing and dancing at an early age and bubbled with creative potential. Introduced by her father to the soothing sounds of R&B and rhythmic flows of hip-hop, Kendra Jae began establishing her musical roots.

Is Rick Barry in 2K? ›

About Rick Barry

Rick Barry is among the very best players who ever played for the Warriors franchise and had been selected as a member of the All-Time Golden State Warriors NBA team by 2K.

Who was the first rapper on 2K? ›

Cole Becomes First Rapper to Land NBA 2K Cover.

Which 2K has Jay Z? ›

NBA 2K13
ArtistSongOther Games
Jay-ZOn To The Next One
Jay-ZH.A.M (instrumental)
Jay-Z ft. Kanye WestThe Bounce
Too $hortBlow The WhistleThe Hip Hop Dance Experience
20 more rows

Who has a 100 overall in 2K? ›

According to Sports Illustrated, only five players in history have ever received a 99 rating while actively playing: Lebron, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. Only one player has ever received a 100 rating in the game — Shaquille O'Neal.

Who is a 99 overall in 2K23? ›

Michael Jordan, the sacred cow

Michael Jordan's 99 rating is followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo's 97 with no player at 98. Other stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid are all at 96.

Who is the best C in NBA 2K21? ›

NBA 2K21: The 10 Best Centers In The NBA (According To Overalls)
  • 3 Karl-Anthony Towns (90)
  • 4 Rudy Gobert (87) ...
  • 5 Bam Adebayo (87) ...
  • 6 Kristaps Porzingis (87) ...
  • 7 Nikola Vucevic (86) ...
  • 8 Andre Drummond (85) ...
  • 9 Jusuf Nurkic (84) ...
  • 10 Deandre Ayton (84) ...
Jan 10, 2021

Is Junior's dad dead 2K21? ›

At least 3 years before the main story, Duke passed away; this serves as the basis of NBA 2K21's MyCareer story, "The Long Shadow".

What is the strongest team in 2K21? ›

Los Angeles Clippers

Who is the fastest in NBA 2K21? ›

Top 10 Fastest Players in NBA 2K21
  • De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento. • Speed: 97. ...
  • Russell Westbrook, Houston. • Speed: 96. ...
  • Jared Harper, New York. • Speed: 93. ...
  • Ja Morant, Memphis. • Speed: 92. ...
  • Derrick White, San Antonio. • Speed: 94. ...
  • Jordan Bone, Detroit. • Speed: 91. ...
  • Tremont Waters, Boston. • Speed: 91. ...
  • John Wall, Washington. • Speed: 90.

Who has the highest 2K rating ever? ›

The players with the best average ratings in NBA 2K history
  • LeBron James. Average rating: 95.70. ...
  • Kobe Bryant. Average rating: 94.94. ...
  • Tim Duncan. Average rating: 93.35. ...
  • Kevin Durant. Average rating: 92.0. ...
  • Allen Iverson. Average rating: 91.83. ...
  • Shaquille O'Neal. Average rating: 91.50. ...
  • Chris Paul. Average rating: 90.66. ...
  • Michael Jordan.
Oct 8, 2022

Who was the first 100 overall in 2K? ›

In all 22 editions of the NBA 2K Games, there has only been one player in league history to have a perfect 100 overall rating – Shaquille O'Neal in the game NBA 2K2.

What size is a boy ball? ›

Size 5 is the standard basketball size for both boys and girls aged 5 - 12 years old. The Size 5 basketball has a circumference of 27.5" (69.5cm). Size 5 is also the official sized game ball for males & females aged 12 and under in the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL).

What ball does NBA use? ›

Whether you're taking your passion to the court or repping your team's colors, bring home a piece of the game with Wilson, the official ball of the NBA, WNBA, Jr. NBA, and Basketball Africa League.

What size basketball for a 13 year old boy? ›

For boys, a size 6 basketball should be used between the ages of 12 and 13. For girls, a size 6 basketball should be used once they hit 12-years-old and is the official size used at the high school, college, and professional level. The circumference of the basketball should be 28.5" and the weight 20 oz.

Who is the slowest player in NBA 2K21? ›

Just look at the list below, which features the slowest players in the NBA according to NBA 2K21's rating system. The two slowest players in the league, per NBA 2K21, Brook and Robin Lopez, get big minutes for the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the best teams in basketball.

How much do you need to dunk in 2K21? ›

The requirements to purchase and equip the Contact Dunk animations are as follows: Pro Contact Dunks: 70 Ovr, Driving Dunk 84. Elite Contact Dunks: 70 Ovr, Driving Dunk 85. Small Contact Dunks: 65 Ovr, Driving Dunk 85, PG, SG, SF.

How tall to dunk in 2K21? ›

Small Contact Dunks: 65 Ovr, 90 Driving Dunk, 65 Vertical, Under 6'10. Pro Bigman Contact Dunks: 65 Ovr, 80 Standing Dunk, 50 Vertical, 6'10 and above. Elite Bigman Contact Dunks: 70 Ovr, 90 Standing Dunk, 65 Vertical, 6'10 and above.

Who has the most NBA dunks? ›

Dwight Howard has the most dunks in NBA regular season history, with 2950 total dunks. The stat started being tracked in 1996-97.

Is 28.5 a men's ball? ›

Girls - Size 28.5 (regulation size women's ball) Boys - Size 29.5 (regulation size men's ball)

Who did the cover art for NBA 2K22? ›

The cover art for all editions of NBA 2K22 was illustrated by world-renowned artist, Charly Palmer.

Who is the model for the NBA logo? ›

There's one more thing that Jerry West is known for - and it's perhaps the most famous of the lot: he is the inspiration for the NBA's logo, which features the white silhouette of a player on a blue and red background (the colours of the US flag).

Who is the person in the current NBA logo? ›

Who is on the NBA logo? The man is depicted in a white silhouette in the iconic NBA logo of Jerry West, one of the most legendary basketball players of all time. The creator of the logo, Siegel, has only recently begun to openly say that the silhouette on the logo is West's.

Who is the person in the NBA logo? ›

The socks are embroidered with the NBA logo and, well, Jerry West might as well be looking in the mirror. After all, the Hall of Famer has been depicted as The Logo — the silhouette outline that captures him dribbling with his left hand while dashing to the rim.

Who was the first person on the 2K cover? ›

NBA 2K cover

Allen “The Answer” Iverson was the first ever athlete to grace the cover of the NBA 2K series. These days he's considered to be one of the best scorers in NBA history, so it looks like it was a good call.

Who is the cover art for 2K23? ›

With J. Cole's big reveal, NBA 2K23 now features Michael Jordan, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi and Devin Booker as its official cover stars.

Which 2K has MJ on the cover? ›

Starting with 2K16, the franchise started to release special editions of the game that honored legends and region-specific players. Jordan was the first player to be on the cover of the special edition.

Who was the first NBA player to shoot from the logo? ›

Damian Lillard: Inventor of the NBA 'Logo Shot'

Does Jerry West get paid to be the NBA logo? ›

Did you know Jerry West doesn't get royalties for being "the logo" because the NBA won't admit the silhouette is him? The photo on this magazine cover is also the real photo used in the NBA logo.

Who made LeBron James logo? ›

LeBron needed a simple logo design that would become a recognizable part of his brand and remain relevant no matter what team he played for or what jersey number that he wore. To design this new logo, LeBron turned to the renowned designer Darrin Crescenzi in 2010.

Who is the Nike basketball player? ›

PHOENIX (AP) — Kevin Durant and Nike have agreed to a lifetime contract, making him just the third NBA player to receive such a deal, joining Michael Jordan and LeBron James. The 13-time All-Star has a relationship with Nike that dates back to 2007, releasing 15 different sets of shoes. A 16th is coming soon.

Who is going to be the next NBA logo? ›

New logo, no Kobe

What the logo doesn't include is a silhouette of Kobe Bryant. A movement rose after Bryant's death in 2020 to change the NBA logo permanently to include his silhouette rather than Jerry West's. Wednesday's news is sure to disappoint Bryant's fervent supporters.

Who is NBA All-Star captains? ›

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are named captains as the All-Star Game returns to Salt Lake City for the 1st time since 1993. LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will be captains in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. LeBron James is closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA career scoring record.

Who lost most NBA Finals? ›

Since 1962-63, LeBron James has lost the most games in the NBA Finals, with 33 losses.
LeBron JamesNBA Finals93
Jerry WestNBA Finals
Kareem Abdul-JabbarNBA Finals45
Magic JohnsonNBA Finals102
15 more rows

Who is the richest basketball player in the world? ›

1. Michael Jordan Net Worth - $2.2 Billion. Viewed by many as the greatest player in NBA history, Jordan has turned his basketball acumen into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.


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