Coming off three straight years of sales numbers eclipsing five million, 2K Sports believes the NBA 2K franchise has crossed the threshold from niche sports sim to pop culture phenomenon. "We truly believe it's become one of the premier entertainment experiences," boasts 2K Sports senior vice president of sports operations Jason Argent. After you've featured the likes of Micheal Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Jay-Z inspired art on your cover, how do you continue that foray into the mass market? By putting the biggest modern day star on the cover.

For NBA 2K14, 2K Sports finally nabbed the ever elusive LeBron James, a man known for his business and brand savvy almost as much as he is known for his deadly three pointers and vicious slam dunks. Over the course of his nine-year career, the Miami Heat forward has had his share of public relations snafus, the most notable being The Decision, a televised ESPN event where he revealed to the world he was leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to take his talents to South Beach. Even in the context of this poorly executed transfer (which many fans still seem to hold against him) he has steadily built his LeBrand, signing major endorsement deals with Nike, Sprint, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Samsung, and others. The one feather missing in his cap? The cover of a video game.

Previous NBA 2K games have leveraged the personalities of the cover stars in the context of the game, like the Jordan Challenge, NBA's Greatest Mode, and the Jay-Z inspired presentation. 2K Sports says this continues with NBA 2K14. Consumers who pre-order the game receive 10,000 extra VC to spend on upgrading their My Players, a signature LeBron James skill that can be applied to your baller, extra content for a new Path to Greatness mode, and they also unlock King James for use in the Blacktop mode.

Discussing the differences between the current- and next-gen versions of the game, Argent says both versions will be "unique, distinct experiences from one another." Look for more information about the game to appear at E3, likely during one of the platform holder press conferences considering 2K doesn't have a booth this year.

NBA 2K14 releases for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 1. The game is also slated to launch day and date on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, both of which are still lacking an official timetable. Sorry Wii U owners, no hoops for you. Argent says 2K Sports made a decision internally that its resources were best put into making a great current- and next-gen game on the previously listed platforms.

Last but not least, here is the box art: