EA Sports confirmed today that Kyrie Irving – the young, star point guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers – will be gracing the cover of NBA Live 14. After a three year hiatus from the pro-basketball simulation scene, EA is attempting to bounce back with their answer to NBA 2k’s LeBron Jamesian basketball dominance.
NBA Live 14, the first basketball simulation from EA since NBA Live 2010, has an uphill battle ahead of it. After the briefly renamed NBA Elite 11‘s abrupt cancellation, the folks at EA took an extra year off to create a quality game to rival that of their competitor’s. NBA Live 13 was supposed to be released last fall but was, once again, cancelled.
Now, Live is looking forward. This year’s instalment will be released exclusively on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Developmental diaries boast of new snappy-named technology like the Ignite Engine, which is apparently being included in all of the next generation EA Sports releases, and “Bouncetek,” a ‘physics based dribbling mechanic” promising heightened ‘authenticity’ and ‘responsiveness’ to set it apart from the other guys.
Whether these fancy new buzzwords deliver with substance, let alone enough substance to seriously compete with 2k’s dominance, remains to be seen. But the deliberate choice of Kyrie Irving is particularly poignant given who 2k chose as their cover athlete – LeBron James.
James’s controversial exit from Cleveland in pursuit – and attainment – of championship rings left a rust-belt city, known more in recent years for its sports short-comings than achievements, angry and desperate. In steps Kyrie Irving, the 2011 first overall draft pick who’s gone on to become a league-wide superstar and the face of a franchise once thought dead. The Cavs are now on the upswing. Their rebuilding process, while not quite complete, has given their fans a substantial reason for hope.
As EA’s Live moves back into the competitive fold, choosing a young star player on the rise as their cover athlete is appropriate. Choosing this particular one, the guy who’s meant to replace LeBron, is bold. Only time will tell if they can succeed. One thing’s for sure, the renewed rivalry for virtual basketball supremacy is centered around Cleveland, Ohio – and that is very, very strange.
NBA Live 14 is out later this year.