6. Rodney Rogers (Denver Nuggets, 1994)

Oh my God. Before Chris Paul, Tim Duncan or Randolph Childress, there was Rodney Rogers, the most fearsome Demon Deacon ever. This is his rookie year with Denver, so you will get him with limitless potential. On Feb. 8, 1994, Rogers buried three 3-pointers in nine seconds to bring the Nuggets back from a 94-86 deficit to a 95-94 lead against the Jazz. His dunk rating should also be through the roof. A tragic motorcycle accident in 2008 left Rogers paralyzed from the shoulders down, making his inclusion here, when his future was so bright, poignant indeed.


7. Chris Mullin (Golden State Warriors, 1991)

A newly minted hall-of-famer, Mullin doesn't strictly conform to the definition of "hidden gem" but for zillions of gym rats, he and the Run-TMC Golden State Warriors are good enough reason to pre-order through GameStop. (Doing so gives you the code for the 1991 Warriors and the 2002 Sacramento Kings). One of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players, Mullin's inclusion, along with David Robinson on the 1998 Spurs, means NBA 2K12 lacks only Charles Barkley for the complete set of 1992 Olympic Dream Team members. (Well, and Christian Laettner.)

8. Penny Hardaway (Orlando Magic, 1995)

For a time, Hardaway looked like a certain hall-of-famer, too. Paired with Shaquille O'Neal in Orlando, Hardaway averaged 20 points, 7 assists and shot 50 percent for a Magic team that thundered to the NBA Finals and handed Michael Jordan his last playoff exit. Yes, a lot of attention will be on Shaq, but in just about anyone's hands Hardaway will become a multifaceted threat running one of the most dynamic offenses in the entire game.


9. Elgin Baylor (Los Angeles Lakers, 1965)

Like Mullin, Baylor is no one's idea of an overlooked player, but a first glance suggests this may be the first video game appearance ever for one of the most luminious stars of the NBA's early days. Probably the greatest North American athlete never to win a championship, across all sports, Baylor posted some unbelievable numbers for his era—including hanging 61 points on Boston in Game Five of the 1962 Finals, a record that still stands. If there's a 16th Legend on this list, it's Baylor, who arguably merits inclusion if not for the fact contemporaries Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain are already on it.


10. Michael Cooper (Los Angeles Lakers, 1987)

One of the NBA's finest defenders ever, Cooper should have absolute lockdown ratings in that department. In 1996, the Lakers called him back to L.A. to work out a young prospect named Kobe Bryant. Quoting now from "The Art of a Beautiful Game," by Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard: "Cooper is 40 years old but still in great shape, wiry and long and much stronger than the teenage Bryant. The game is not even close. ... After 10 minutes, [Jerry] West stands up. 'That's it, I've seen enough,' he says. 'He's better than anyone we've got on the team right now. Let's go.' " With Cooper and Bryant from the 1998 Lakers, you can recreate one of the most important, and unknown, one-on-one duels in NBA history.


Honorable Mention: Tree Rollins

With the Magic in 1995, Clemson's Shade Tree was in the final year of an 18-year career known for "The Trillion," a box score line of one minute played and nothing else—12 zeroes, reading 1,000,000,000,000 all the way across. Tree registered an unofficial record 14 of them. Two years ago I proposed that NBA 2K make getting a Trillion a secret achievement. Though I have no information that will happen, if we've come this far I can't see why the 2K Sports gang wouldn't want to.


(Darryl Dawkins image via)

You can contact Owen Good, the author of this post, at owen@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.