Hey, here's James Harden on the cover of 'NBA Live 18'

James Harden finished second in the NBA’s 2016-17 Most Valuable Player voting, but when it came time for the folks at EA Sports to select a player to appear on the cover of “NBA Live 18,” the Houston Rockets’ superstar shooting guard was No. 1 with a bullet:

James Harden gets loud and stays quiet on the cover of ‘NBA Live 18.’ (EA Sports)

When this year’s model of EA’s NBA video game franchise hits stores on Sept. 15, fans will be greeted by Harden’s bearded face on the cover, Electronic Arts announced Thursday. The game, which will also be the first major basketball title ever to feature WNBA teams, will be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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It’s not Harden’s first time appearing on a video game’s cover; two years back, he shared the cover of “NBA 2K16” with fellow stars Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis. This time around, though, he’s the lone star in the scene. (Here’s hoping he savored the flavor, because he’s about to have to get used to sharing again real soon.)

To some degree, Harden’s still slotting in second by lending his likeness to “NBA Live 18” and not the new model of the “NBA 2K” series, which has long since overtaken EA’s frequently problemplagued offering to establish itself as far and away the No. 1 basketball video game on the market. (Last year’s edition of “Live” didn’t make it to the top consoles; instead, EA released it only as a mobile game for Android and iOS users.)

But while “NBA 2K18,” featuring former “Live” cover boy Kyrie Irving, figures to remain the sport’s dominant title this fall, the early reports on “Live” — which will feature a new career mode called “The One” that will let people play the NBA (as noted by the “The League” side of the cover, featuring Harden in his Rockets uniform) and in pickup games on real-life street and pro-am basketball courts like Harlem’s Rucker Park and Los Angeles’ Drew League (as suggested in the “The Street” half of the cover) — have been tentatively, cautiously positive. Even though the game apparently includes unskippable full-motion video “First Take” segments featuring Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman embracing debate about your created player. (Yikes.)

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If you’re inclined to give it a free shot, you can check out a demo version of the game today; if you like what you see enough to take a crack at a pre-order, you can apparently do so at a reduced rate. Happy hunting, gamers … and maybe keep that mute button handy for the “First Take” interstitials.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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