Jayson Tatum and A'ja Wilson on the cover of NBA 2K25. Jayson Tatum and A’ja Wilson on the cover of NBA 2K25.

It’s official. A’ja Wilson is the cover athlete for NBA 2K25’s WNBA edition.

And it’s rightly deserved.

“Being featured on the NBA 2K25 cover is a big moment for me and a testament to the ever-growing fandom of the WNBA,” said Wilson. “Seeing more and more WNBA athletes scanned into NBA 2K25 to best capture the style and confidence of the league has been empowering, and I can’t wait for fans to experience it in-game.”

After adding the WNBA to its game package in 2020, NBA 2K released its first WNBA cover featuring Candace Parker for the 2K22 edition in honor of the league’s 25th anniversary. The now-retired WNBA legend won three championships (with the Los Angeles Sparks, Chicago Sky, and Las Vegas Aces) throughout a storied career that spanned 16 seasons. Parker remains the only player in league history to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season.

NBA 2K has kept the WNBA cover tradition ever since. But not without controversy. When looking at the collection of 2K covers over the past decade or more, the players featured on the NBA side include the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kyrie Irving. In other words, players who have established themselves as superstars, champions, record-setters, and legends.

Both Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird graced the cover of the 2K23 WNBA edition. As two of the greatest players in the game, it made sense. Both Taurasi and Bird were recognizable faces of a league they helped shape, leaving an indelible mark on their way to GOAT status. Bird retired at the end of the 2022 season when the cover debuted. Taurasi, now in her 20th season, is still defying Father Time and will go down as the most prolific WNBA scorer of all time when she finally does step away from the court.

Perhaps that’s why the 2K24 WNBA edition featuring Sabrina Ionescu caused a bit of an uproar. Ionescu was an incredible college player, but she had yet to really make her mark as a pro. When the cover was announced, she was already three years removed from her college platform and hadn’t yet set the WNBA All-Star 3-point Contest record. Yes, she’s a three-time All-Star and there was a connection to Bryant, who was honored on the 2K24 Kobe Bryant and Black Mamba editions. But if 2K was following its own script for its NBA covers, there were a handful of other big names to choose from, including Alyssa Thomas, Breanna Stewart, and Wilson, as well as former legends Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, and Tina Thompson.

Creating a series of WNBA collectible covers on par with its NBA counterparts that will be remembered and discussed throughout the years, putting Ionescu front and center ahead of other players felt like a missed opportunity. Before this year’s cover was announced, Caitlin Clark’s name had been tossed around. Clark has immense popularity and is a huge draw. She has impacted viewership numbers, merchandise sales, and attendance records. The decision to put her on the cover was seemingly a slam dunk. But it would have been the wrong one.

WNBA 2K covers are still a new and novel thing. There’s only been three of them. The tradition could have been created years ago. But much like the lack of proper media coverage and attention or the false belief that the audience wasn’t there, the WNBA and its players weren’t given the honor or the creative dedication. Now that they are, it would be irresponsible to overlook all of the talented players who have played or are still playing, and who set the bar for the league. Players who didn’t get the opportunity not because it wasn’t deserved, but because it wasn’t given in the first place.

Putting Wilson on the 2K25 cover is the right decision.

The Las Vegas Aces forward is the leading MVP candidate this season, averaging 27 points, 10.9, and 2.9 rebounds per game. She helped lead the Aces to back-to-back championships in 2022 and 2023, becoming just the third franchise in league history to win consecutive titles (Los Angeles Sparks and Houston Comets). Wilson’s level of consistency and efficiency, year after year, has been nothing short of amazing.

There will be more covers to come. Clark will certainly be on one soon. A dual cover featuring both Clark and Chicago Sky’s Angel Reese would not only be smart but also deserved and even expected for 2K26. Both rookies are having record-setting seasons. Both are lifting the WNBA to new heights, much like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson did for the NBA back in the day.

“No 2K cover athlete is ever chosen by their popularity or accolades alone. Wilson is arguably one of the greatest WNBA players of all time but, most importantly, she is a true competitor who embodies the passion, drive, and relentless pursuit of the win that fuels all NBA 2K players,” said a 2K spokesperson. “We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these rookies but this year we’re honoring a legend who has already made her mark.”

Wilson will also appear alongside Jayson Tatum for the first-ever dual league NBA 2K cover. Tatum is also the featured athlete for the 2K25 Standard edition, while Vince Carter was selected for the 2K25 Hall of Fame edition.

All NBA 2K25 editions will be available on September 6.

About Lyndsey D'Arcangelo

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is a seasoned sports writer, author and women’s sports advocate. She previously wrote about women’s basketball for The Athletic and is the co-author of Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League.