Blake Griffin has played video games for more than half of his life.

His digital likeness has appeared in at least one game over the last six years (twice in college while at Oklahoma and four since he was selected first overall by the Clippers in 2009). This season, Griffin, along with fellow young superstars Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, is a video game cover athlete for the first time as a professional, gracing the cover of NBA 2K13.

“You’re playing video games as kids and stuff and seeing all those guys on the cover,” Griffin said, referring to past entries in the 2K series and others. “It’s definitely cool to have that as a thing [that you’ve been able to do].”

As part of the marketing campaign for what 2K Sports is calling “The New Dynasty,” Griffin has taken part in photo shoots, telephone interviews, a handful of amusing commercials and digital films, and will appear on Conan, the Los Angeles-based late-night talk show, on Monday, Oct. 29.

“Blake’s been a huge part of our campaign,” said Jason Argent, Vice President of Marketing for 2K Sports. “He’s obviously a really funny guy, so we’ve been eager to push him and get his personality out there. He starred in some of our digital films leading up to the release of NBA 2K13, and he’s also appearing on the Conan Show this coming Monday where he’ll promote NBA 2K13 on the air.”



For Griffin, one part of the experience that has stood out was seeing how developers capture players digitally.

“You have to go in and sit down in this big thing and there are cameras all around here and a whole bunch of lights and it just takes pictures of your face and you have to smile, you have to laugh, frown,” the Clippers star said. “There’s probably like 50 different facial expressions, so that was pretty cool. That’s pretty much how they take how you look in the game.”

Because of significant advancements over the years in motion capture technology, Griffin’s digital likeness resembles real life more so than ever before. It’s not just a matter of recognizing a power forward on the Clippers wearing jersey No. 32, but 2K’s Griffin has a physical stature and facial structure as well as on-court gear and mannerisms that mimic the two-time All-Star. The way he bounds up the court or spins off the rim following a dunk looks similar to what it might on television.

Griffin said he is impressed by the realism. “It’s unreal. I remember playing games when I was in seventh or eighth grade and the only way you could tell a player apart was by his hair or his jersey number or his height. Now you can kind of recognize each player. It’s come such a long way.”

The 2K Basketball series originated in 1999 as an exclusive title for the Sega Dreamcast, and has since grown into one of the most recognizable names in sports video games. After five seasons with former 76ers star Allen Iverson appearing on the cover, the company branched out to other recognizable players around the league.

Clippers point guard Chris Paul was a 2K cover athlete for 2K8 (released October 2007) while he was a member of the Hornets, and NBA legend Michael Jordan has made exclusive appearances in the last three entries of the series, including the cover in 2K11 and 2K12. Now, it is Griffin’s turn to be among the elite few.

According to Argent, the selection of Griffin for 2K13 made sense considering the direction of the series and the Clippers’ ascension to the upper echelon of the Western Conference.

“Blake is a perfect representation of what we’re calling ‘The New Dynasty,’” he said. “There are so many great young players in the league these days, and Blake was a prime choice to be on the cover alongside Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose. He’s helped turn the Clippers into legitimate title contenders, and we’re excited to see his career develop even further.”