Why isn’t Barkley in NBA 2K12? Money.

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NBA 2K12, by putting 15 legends of the NBA into this year’s game, sparked a little debate — which 15 guys should be in?

It’s easy to say Michael Jordan and Magic, but when it gets to around 15 the lines are not so clear. Especially when you know the game makers are giving extra weight to players game buyers remember.

Guys like Charles Barkley. A guy who should be in the discussion for that list but is certainly on the bubble.

He’s not in it. At all. The Sixers team he played on as a rookie — which included Dr. J — is in but he is absent from that squad. That is not the kind of casual oversight you see on a game that prides itself in the details.

Gaming site kotaku.com explains it was all about the Benjamins. And maybe some ego.

2K Sports attempted to include basketball great Charles Barkley in NBA 2K12’s “NBA’s Greatest” mode, showcasing dozens of superstars spanning the game’s history, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement bringing the hall-of-famer to the video game. He will not appear in NBA 2K12….

Why Barkley couldn’t fit in may be due to money, what billing he receives in the game, or a combination of both. Barkley is a unique figure in that his television work for TNT’s NBA broadcasts keeps him prominent as one of basketball’s most commanding figures. Yet his playing record is, objectively, dwarfed by the game’s three different cover stars, and many of the others on the list of 15 legends. He has one MVP, one NBA Finals appearance and no championships. Nearly everyone else has multiple credentials in both categories.

2K Sports goes out of its way in statements to the site to say what a good relationship they have with Sir Charles, paving the way for him to be in future. But for now, no go. You’ll have to settle for Charles Oakley.