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Every 'NBA 2K' Game, Ranked Best To Worst

Updated September 5, 2020 4.7k votes 749 voters 14.3k views22 items

Since 1999, the NBA 2K series has dominated the sports gaming arena. Designed to replicate the NBA, each and every 2K release includes its own cover athlete (mentioned below), as well as an epic career mode (though some installments are better than others).

Wondering what's the best NBA 2K game ever made? Maybe there's a specific installment you still love above all others? Whether it's the gameplay, the style, the roster, or a combination of all three, some of these games have definitely been more popular than others. Fortunately, this list ranks every major NBA 2K game ever released.

Sure, older installments may look and feel more dated than the latest versions, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're worse games (or better, for that matter). Vote up all your favorite NBA 2K games so other gamers can see which titles really take the cake.

  • Photo: Visual Concepts

    Cover athletes: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis (American versions)

    Known for being the fastest-selling game in the series at the time, NBA 2K16 was nominated for Best Sports/Racing game at the 2015 Game Awards. It lost to Rocket League.

    Did you know: Legendary film director Spike Lee wrote, directed, and co-produced NBA 2K16’s MyCareer mode. According to Lee, he wanted to "push the boundaries of innovative storytelling."

    This game a slam dunk?
  • Photo: Visual Concepts

    NBA 2K11

    Cover athlete: Michael Jordan

    Among its many updates, NBA 2K11 featured a new Jordan Challenge mode where players relived 10 of the NBA great’s biggest career achievements, including, but not limited to, Jordan's Last Dance.

    Did you know: NBA 2K11 featured 18 classic NBA teams in addition to the regular roster, which included the '85-'86 Chicago Bulls, '90-'91 Lakers, and more. These teams were available in Quick Play matches.

    This game a slam dunk?
  • Photo: Visual Concepts

    Cover athlete: LeBron James

    In addition to the standard NBA teams, NBA 2K14 is notable for also including the EuroLeague teams, meaning gamers could play as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and more.

    Did you know: The game's soundtrack was hand-picked by LeBron James. Artists include Drake, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, and more.

    This game a slam dunk?
  • Photo: Visual Concepts

    Cover athletes: Paul George, Kobe Bryant (Legend Edition), Danilo Gallinari (Italy), and Pau Gasol (Spain)

    Michael B Jordan makes an appearance in NBA 2K17’s MyCareer mode as Justice Young, your brash and talented teammate. Comedians Hannibal Buress and Matt Walsh also make appearances.

    Did you know: NBA 2K17 made significant changes when it came to the game's background noise, with developers traveling to various arenas in order to record real-time audio to use in the game. Everything down to the sound the ball makes when your player dribbles are incredibly authentic. 

    This game a slam dunk?