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P.J. Tucker is the undisputed sneaker king of the NBA. It’s not just because he wears Yeezys and Off-White x Air Jordan 1s on the court, or spent a ton of money on Sneaker Shopping. He was given the award of NBPA Sneaker Champ for the 2017-2018, where he was given the title through the votes of his peers.
But the Houston Rockets forward doesn’t just wear cool stuff on the court; he’s a true sneaker connoisseur who been known to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to track down rare and vintage sneakers.
"I just bought an SB Dunk collection the early 2000s that I had been searching [to find] for a while," he says. "I’m working on a deal right now with a LeBron [sneaker] hoarder."
We got the chance to talk to Tucker recently, and he discussed how much he spent on sneakers this past season, whether or not he and Nick Young have a footwear rivalry, and if he’ll ever give up his sneaker freedom in exchange for a signature shoe with a brand.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
How much did you spend on sneakers this year?
You know what’s crazy about that whole thing with Joe [La Puma]? I had just been in New York before that and I went to Flight Club. I don’t know what happened, but I think someone just dropped off a bunch of their collections there. [I spent] double what we did on the actual episode [of Sneaker Shopping]. Guys in the the store were laughing [during the shoot], and they were like, “People don’t even know that you were here a couple of weeks ago.” It was O.G. old stuff, the stuff I had been looking at for years.
So how much?
I didn’t even look at the number this year. I’ll have to look at it during the summer.
If you had to make a rough estimate. $50,000? $100,000?
Probably close to $200K.
Favorite pair you wore on the court this year?
Legend of Summer IIIs. I looked for that shoe for so long. I was arguing with my Jordan Brand people. They said they only made two pairs of [size] 14s. I was trying to hunt them down. Getting a pair to wear was one thing.
Anything you’ve picked up for next year? Anything where you’re like, “I’m gonna kill them with this next year"?
That’s more of my boys. They’re always sending me stuff. I let my boys pick shoes I wear. It never stops. It’s a part of my life. It’s never like I go sneaker shopping just to get shoes for a hoop game.
Did you feel like you and Nick Young were trying to outdo each other in the Western Conference Finals?
Nah, I feel the sneaker culture is bigger than that. Wear what you love, how you’re feeling. My shoes are an expression of me, how I’m feeling. Some nights I might wear some crazy stuff. Some nights I might be more regular. I’ll wear shoes that no one knows and is a sleeper, but it might be something that I really love. Swag got a lot of shoes. He’s been wearing a lot of dope stuff for awhile. Him being with Adidas right now is a little harder on him, I think, especially to keep up with me. Swag bringing back Pro Models this year? He didn’t get enough credit for that. I gave him credit for that and most people were like, “What?” And I was like, “Yo, dudes just don’t know.”
Dopest sneaker that you wore that felt like shit on the court?
Easily the Kaws IV. The Kaws IV is terrible. That’s a bad hoop shoe. That suede rubs against your feet. I had to triple my socks. The leather on the inside is a no-go.
Would you ever want your own signature shoe, or do you just want to wear rare sneakers instead?
I’m fighting through that right now, whether I decide to take a deal and go with it. It’s hard ‘cause I like my freedom. Nike gives me the freedom to wear all the shoes I want and be with them. That’s not a given with the other brands. Getting your own shoe, I guess, is always the goal. But that’s never really been my dream. I love the new stuff, the old stuff, having that freedom. Switch up shoes every night. I fight with that everyday.
So if a Chinese brand threw you a bag, you might have to pass that up?
Did you talk to somebody, dog? You seem like you talked to somebody. You sound like you know way too much. That’s what I’m dealing with. It’s a tough decision, and I’m dealing with it now. That’s something I’ve got to work through and figure out.