PJ Tucker has had, in his words, a “pretty good year.” The NBA veteran won his first championship after being traded to Milwaukee from Houston and then inked a two-year deal with the Miami Heat, who are looking to become contenders once again.
While the Heat are among the many teams in the league trying to navigate injuries and absences right now, Tucker has loved what he’s seen from those on the roster who have gotten opportunity and taken advantage of it, leaning on his own past to help guide the next generation. Ahead of this weekend’s road trip to Orlando and Detroit (where Tucker left the game with a knee injury and did not return), Dime got a chance to talk to Tucker on behalf of eBay, who he has partnered with to sell off some of his massive sneaker collection, including more than a dozen game-worn shoes.
Tucker’s sneakers will go on sale on Monday morning at 6 a.m. ET here (the full list of sneakers Tucker is putting on eBay can be found below the interview), as his two moves in the last calendar year have prompted the star to look to spread some of the love and make his collection a little lighter. We talked about his whirlwind 10 months, the three young Heat players he can’t help but see some of himself in, and his favorite sneaker pickups recently that will be making their debut on court sooner than later.
Can you describe this last year for you, winning a championship in Milwaukee and now starting a new season down in Miami?
Oh man, this has been a whirlwind man. I literally have experienced every emotion possible in a year’s time — not even like 9-10 months time I’ve experienced every emotion possible. It’s been unreal to go from being in a situation I didn’t want to be in, being in a contract year and having my doubts about what’s gonna happen, to go into one of the spots I thought it could work at and I thought I could win it. And then to actually turn around and do it, that was incredible, and obviously all the emotion with that. But then also in free agency to be able to go to a place that was at the top of my list, you know, I couldn’t be happier. So it’s been great. I’ve had a pretty good year [laughs].
You guys got off to a fantastic start and have had some injuries since, but y’all have been able to stay in that top five range in the East despite those. What have you liked about the way this group has responded to being without Bam and Jimmy and Tyler and all the absences you’ve had, but still playing at the level you guys are and competing the way you guys have been?
I think it’s just a part of who we are and how we play like. It literally, you can almost plug some guys in certain positions and situations and we’re gonna play the same way. We have guys come in and they’ve bought in to what we do, and it’s just that unity of our team, our organization. It’s unbelievable. Everybody rooting for each other, everybody having each other’s back. To win games in this league without you know, four of your top five players [laughs], it’s pretty incredible. And I mean big time games, to be able to go in and win those type of games without your top guys is pretty incredible. So it’s something that we’re gonna have to continue to do. Bam’s off a few more weeks, hopefully we get Jimmy back soon, but you know, especially now, we just got to try to plug in as many wins as possible and keep this thing going.
I saw your appearance on Old Man and the Three earlier this year and you talked about the lessons you had to learn as a young player, getting cut by the Raptors. How has that shaped how you talk with and try to provide guidance for some of these young guys? You mentioned there’s a lot of young guys on this team, getting opportunity and what’s the the message that you try to provide as somebody who’s been there, and knows the wrong way to go about it and now the right way?
It’s crazy because I hadn’t had any really young guys like that, like we have here, in a while since, maybe, Phoenix. Houston, we didn’t really have any young guys. So it’s interesting because when you’ve been through what I’ve been through and kind of weeded your way through and gotten to the light — it’s like the information that I have and I know to be able to give guys and try to help and teach guys, but also not like talk down to them. Like, you know, that’s normally how guys are in those situations, like wagging a finger and just telling you what to do. Where, here, man honestly, we have such good guys. You talk to guys they look at you, they know what you’re saying. They’re getting better, they’re working at it, it’s not hard here. That’s what I’m trying to say is that it’s not one of those situations where you have to, like, be overbearing. These young guys we have are really good, they have high basketball IQs, they know how to play, and we just stick together through all the the tough times that we have. Guys stick together and that makes it a lot easier to be a vet on this team.
There have been three in particular that have stuck out with Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Caleb Martin all getting an opportunity they’ve never had before. What does it say about those guys to come in and play the way they have and have some huge games? I mean, Gabe Vincent having a big game the other night with I think 26 points, and the way that they’ve stepped up. What does that say about the work they’ve been putting in behind the scenes, even when there’s only been a few minutes to be had in games?
Oh, those are the three. Those are my three guys. Those three right there, because all three of them kind of remind me of myself in different ways. And they’re fearless, like they come in and they work hard every day. And I see ’em in early every day, get shots up afterwards, always talkingk always watching film. And the beauty of this league is it’s so many games, you’re gonna need different guys different nights. No, you’re not gonna have it every night. You’re gonna miss shots, you’re not gonna be on point on defense all the time. So it’s always so funny, it’s always one — like, Coach always says we need an X factor and it’s always one guys night that night. Max came in and hit six threes tonight, or Caleb came in and got six offensive rebounds, and Gabe came in and ran the team and did what he’s supposed to do and helped us win. So it is pretty amazing. I love seeing, like I said being one of the older guys to see one of those guys every single night step up.
You’ve got this partnership with eBay to put some sneakers up for sale. What were the conversations about what you want to do here and trying to make some of these grails accessible to people and available to people that want them, because they’re not sneakers that a lot of people have been able to get?
Yeah, honestly I just wanted to have some fun with it, man. I had so many extra shoes, and we were thinking about different ways to be able to do it. And once we came up with this idea, it just made sense. You know a bunch of game worn shoes, one off shoes that I wore once, some of my personal favorite stuff I wore in games, stuff that, you know, I didn’t get around to wearing that I wanted to but they just didn’t make the cut for the trips, whether from Milwaukee or from Houston. So the idea came from just me moving two or three times this year, some of these shoes gotta move too.
You’re the king of the wear your sneakers movement. Why is it important for you to go out there and show people to, like, wear your shoes, enjoy your shoes? These aren’t just things that you have to keep kind of boxed up and in a hermetically sealed thing like enjoy them. That’s why you get them, right?
Yeah, and that’s, I mean, that’s what it was always about growing up. It was all about wearing ’em. Like it wasn’t just to say, ‘Hey, oh you know those new ones? I got ’em.’ It’s like, oh yeah, you do like nobody believes you. Like you gotta wear ’em, man. That’s seeing Jordan wear the shoes in the game. Like I grew up on that, so me wearing those shoes in a game is everything. It’s not just having them or you know, just having to wear on the street. I get my shoes to wear in basketball games. They’re basketball shoes! They’re made for basketball games.
Absolutely. Finally, what have been some of your favorite recent pickups that you’ve gotten?
Ohhhhhhh, what have I gotten? Oh the SoleFly Jordan 1s are definitely up there. What have I gotten lately? I’m thinking…oh, the Oregon 8’s. Yeah, those were sick. Oh, I just got my new Converse collab that I made. I just got the samples for those, they’re pretty sick, come out in January. I’m excited about that. They’re pretty nice. What else? Oh, and I just got a bunch of new LeBron stuff. Watch the Thrones, a bunch of the new 19s and they’re bringing back the 9s so I got some pretty crazy colorways of the 9s as well.
PJ Tucker’s Sneakers For Sale
Kyrie 6 SR Sneaker Room MOM PE – Game Worn
Hyperdunk 2012 Low PE Area 72
Zoom Kobe 2 ID Black Yellow King of NJ – Game Worn
Air Jordan 1 Low Navy/Grey Test Sample – Game Worn
Kobe 4 Protro PE – Game Worn
Air Force 1 Low PRM TZ Bearbrick
Kobe 6 Protro x PJ Tucker Texas2Toronto
Air Trainer 3 Premium Super Bowl
Jordan Zoom Tenacity 88 White/Valour Blue/Navy PE
Kyrie 5 Duke Black PE
Kyrie 5 UCONN PE
Kyrie 5 Duke Blue PE
Kyrie 4 Academy PE
Kyrie 4 All Star PE
Dunk Low Pro SB Heineken
Zoom Lebron 4 Playoff PE – Game Worn
Zoom LeBron 3 SuperBron – Game Worn
Lebron 7 University of Kentucky PE – Game Worn
Kobe 4 Protro White/Black/Purple PE
LeBron 8 V/2 Diana Taurasi All-Star PE
Zoom Kobe 6 Think Pink
Kobe 4 Protro White/University Red PE
Zoom Kobe 5 Ink
Zoom Kobe 3 All Star
Air Jordan 10 Double Nicke
Zoom Kobe 7 System TB White Metallic Silver
Air Jordan 11 Retro Low Tuxedo
Air Jordan 5 Blackout Test Sample
Air Jordan Super Fly SE Russell Westbrook OKC Away PE
Zoom KD 3 Skills Academy PE – Game Worn
Air Jordan 12 Low Bred Derek Anderson Loyal 1 PE – Game Worn
Air Jordan 23 OG Chicago Bulls – Game Worn
Air Max LeBron 7 Retro QS Red Carpet
Air Max LeBron 7 NFW White Varsity Red – Game Worn
Jordan CP3.X Chris Paul PE
Hyperdunk x Low MSCO PE
KD 6 Supreme DC Preheat
Air Jordan 6 Retro Bulls – Game Worn
Zoom Huarache TR Low Premium x EA Sports – Game Worn
LeBron 9 Shooting Stars PE
Air Max LeBron 7 CavFanatic PE
Louis Vuitton Trainer Sneaker Boot
Air Jordan 10 Retro x PSNY Public School Promo – Game Worn
Dunk High Black Old Royal
Air Jordan 2 Retro Eminem – Game Worn
LeBron Zoom 3 PE SVSM Sample – Game Worn
Air Trainer 1.3 Max Breathe LeBron James PE – Game Worn
Air Jordan 5 Retro Low Derek Anderson PE – Game Worn
Air Foamposite One x Comme des Garçons Homme Plus White – Game Worn
Jordan 32 JBC Pure Platinum PE – Game Worn