When rumors leaked that the 2001-2002 Sacramento Kings were to be included in the annual NBA 2K title, it was said that one had to pre-order the game to get the unique code which would allow the team to be playable.
That is not the case.
According to Kotaku, you do NOT need to pre-order NBA 2K12 to get your mitts on the 01-02 Kings (or 90-91 Run TMC Warriors, if that floats your boat).
2K Sports will ship codes with the game during its initial release, but be forewarned, there are only a select number of codes being shipped. Once they run out, games will ship without the code so you’ll most certainly need to get your hands on the first batch delivered to stores if you have plans to avoid a Kobe elbow to the nose.