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Sports Pulse: Mackenzie Salmon learns tips and tricks from 2K champion Michael Key AKA BearDaBeast

USA TODAY

Growing up, most NBA stars dream of running out of the tunnel and into a massive arena filled with thousands of fans roaring.

Perhaps the only thrill that could rival realizing your dream of making it to the pros would be to buy the latest version of NBA2K to see yourself in the video game that you played growing up. Although it may seem insignificant, there’s a sense of coming full circle.

Countless NBA players have experienced this feeling. But not a single WNBA player had until recently. 

When NBA 2K20 was released in 2019, it was the first time the annual game – that premiered in 1999 – featured WNBA players. Her predecessors didn’t get the chance to play as themselves, but Washington Mystics wing Aerial Powers couldn’t help but make a comparison when she first played as herself.

“This is probably how the guys feel when they get into the league and they get a chance to play themselves on 2K,” she said. “It’s just surreal and is pretty fun.”

Washington Mystics forward Aerial Powers dribbles as Connecticut Sun guard Bria Holmes defends during game two of the 2019 WNBA Finals at The Entertainment and Sports Arena on Oct. 1, 2019. (Photo: Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports)

One year later, with the release of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, 2K revealed the newest feature to the franchise: “The W.”

“The W” — a new mode that is exclusively available in 2K21 while playing the next-gen gaming consoles — brings multiple new modes to NBA2K21 featuring the WNBA including a “MyPLAYER” experience that allows players to create their own WNBA player for the first time. Other additions include “The W Online” for “3v3 MyPLAYER” games and “MyWNBA” — a mode that allows users to play the role of GM and commissioner in the WNBA. 

It took 22 iterations of the game for these modes to be added, and the common reaction among WNBA players has been disbelief.

“I would have never thought they would implement girls into the game,” Powers told USA TODAY Sports. “Even though I feel like we should be in there.”

Dallas Wings guard Allisha Gray has been playing 2K since Shaquille O’Neal graced the cover in 2005, and she still has trouble believing that she’s a part of it. 

“I never would have imagined seeing myself in a video game,” Gray said. 

Alexis Jones, who was waived by the Atlanta Dream in August, has always enjoyed making her own player on 2K and tends to mold his game after her own. This will be the first year she won’t have to make herself in the image of a