We were all a little bummed when we learned last week that "NBA 2K12" — the hotly anticipated forthcoming edition of 2K Sports' NBA video game franchise, over which many of us have been salivating since seeing those awesome trailers featuring league legends alongside today's players — won't include any players chosen in the 2011 NBA draft out of the box. They'll surely release a roster update once the lockout ends, but the wait will be very sad. After all, no Kyrie Irving and no Derrick Williams make Dan something something.
But things are not all glum! While we were busy stewing over rookie-less rosters, we missed another, subtler bit of "2K12" news: The game features NBA commissioner David Stern announcing draft picks! (sotto voce) yaaaaaaay.
NOTE: The passage below includes a minor spoiler about the game's "Association" mode, so if you get irked by such things, get your '80s toys on and skip it.
Once you continue past the Mock Draft, the NBA Draft will finally commence. Herein lies the first surprise that I've been dying to tell everyone about for a long time. Through our great partnership with the NBA, I'm extremely proud to announce that were able to get Mr. David Stern into the studio to record all necessary audio required to have him announce the entire 1st round of the draft (Association Spoiler: Our great partnership also allowed us to secure Deputy Commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver. When the 2nd Round of the draft rolls around, Mr. Silver will walk onto the stage and call out the remainder of the draft. Now seriously, how many other sports games out there would go to this level of detail to bring you what you truly want? Answer: None).
Setting aside the repetition of "Our great partnership with the NBA," which has sort of a "Sun-Li in the Paddy's Pub karaoke contest" vibe to it, that is a pretty impressive level of detail.
It'd definitely be a sweet thrill to hear David Stern's digital drone announce that Virtual You — the spitting image of Real-Life You, plus an extra six or 10 inches, 25 to 50 pounds of muscle, 15 to 30 inches of vertical leap and oh, say, several hundred skill points — had been chosen in the first round of the NBA draft. Granted, I think I'd prefer shaking fools as Kemba Walker right out of the gate, but this is good, too. (Especially if you get drafted by the New York Knicks. I hope the small amount of bemusement and sideways smirk in Stern's voice as he prepares to feed the trolls, always an annual Draft Night treat, translates through my speakers.)
And, as Kotaku's Good notes, it actually represents an "unlikely first" — Stern is the first league commissioner to lend not only his likeness, but also his voice, to a video game. (NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appears to present the Lombardi Trophy in "Madden NFL 11" and "Madden NFL 12," but plays a Marcel Marceau role in the proceedings.)
These are the kind of small touches that the NBA has excelled at in recent years, another expert digital media brushstroke — alongside the expansion of League Pass Broadband, the wide availability of exclusive team-specific content on team websites and its (relatively) loose governance of fan-created highlight packages and mixes on YouTube — that stands as proof of just how in tune the league is with its fans and what they want. They really seem to get us, you know?
In other, unrelated news, today is the 78th day of the NBA lockout.
- David Stern