First you become a star of the real game. Only then, evidently, do you get a chance to become the face of the virtual game.

Electronic Arts has announced that NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, and Tony Parker will be featured on the covers of NBA LIVE 2005, scheduled for release on October 5.

Check out more photos of 'Melo, Pau and Parker in NBA LIVE 2005.
Anthony will appear on all the cover of the game in North America and other territories around the world. Gasol and Parker will be on the cover in Spain and France, respectively.

"Making the jump from Syracuse to the NBA, and now from the cover of NCAA March Madness to NBA LIVE, is an incredible honor," said Anthony, who was on the cover of EA’s college basketball game last year after leading Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA title. "To think that I could now be on the cover and help introduce a new generation to NBA LIVE is an awesome feeling."

Anthony led all rookies in scoring with 21 points per game, ranked third in rebounding (6.3 rpg), and helped propel the Nuggets to their first playoff berth since 1995, the year NBA LIVE was born.

Gasol burst on to the scene from his native Spain when he was named the 2002 got milk? Rookie of the Year. In three NBA seasons, the 7-footer has averaged 18.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for the Grizzlies.

Parker, a native of Belgium who grew up in France, has averaged 13.1 points and 5.0 assists per game through three seasons and established himself as one of the league’s top point guards when he helped San Antonio win the 2003 Finals.

Innovations in this year's game include:
Freestyle Air, which takes the game above the rim with new dunks and added in-air control
An all-new NBA All-Star Weekend mode that features the innovative Slam Dunk Contest, the 3-Point Shootout, and more
Revamped Dynasty Mode and online features

The NBA LIVE franchise, celebrating 10 seasons this year, is the best-selling basketball video game of all-time with more than 20 million units sold worldwide.