PJ Tucker’s stranglehold on the NBA sneaker game is only getting tighter. If you thought that being confined to the inside of the NBA’s bubble during the restart of the 2019-20 season was going to slow him down—you were wrong.
Tucker still receives shipments of rare sneakers on what seems like a daily basis, and spends hours of his days surfing eBay for pairs that the casual sneakerhead would never even think of purchasing, or in some cases wouldn’t even know existed. Now, Tucker has teamed up with eBay to give an in-depth look at his new sneaker loft and provide fans with a chance to shop the sneakers in his collection.
In the COVID-19-stricken world, there is a lot of uncertainty in the NBA. Will the bubble work? Will the season actually finish? Who will win the title? Will there be an asterisk next to the championship team’s name? While we might not have the answer to those questions, we do know that PJ Tucker is going to keep buying sneakers and he is going to keep turning heads with what he laces up on the court.
Check out our interview with the reigning NBA sneaker king below where he talks about some recent pick-ups and life inside the bubble.
What rules were in place for the shoes that you could bring, and what was the process of bringing those sneakers into the bubble?
There were no rules there. I brought everything I wanted—just as many as I could muster up to put in the bag that I had, or the boxes that I had. So, there really wasn't any rules or any process, it was just actually doing it.
How did you decide which pairs you wanted to bring?
Honestly, I just searched through my collection. I just went up and down the road, kind of pick the ones...obviously we haven't played in so long, but I still buy shoes and still bring shoes in. My normal pile got stuck pretty well during this whole COVID situation, so it wasn't very hard to pick because I had so many kinds to pick from. I just went through them.
So that article came out with ESPN about your eBay checklist and some of the shoes that you were still hunting for. Have you been able to cross any more off the list?
I crossed three off the list I think already. I know that two will be real tough to find. We'll see if I get anymore, but I doubt it. It's just hard—especially some of those are so rare, they're so old. Even to be able to get them is one thing, but to be able to open a search and they’re actually there is a whole other story. So we'll see. Hopefully things come up.
And finding them in a size 13, 14, too, has got to be tough, right?
It's the toughest. I think I'll always feel like 13 is the most popular size. Even though they say it's like 11.5 or 11. I swear I think 13 is just so bad.
When you're looking for shoes, how many hours a day do you think you spend scrolling eBay? Either looking for those or just looking for other stuff?
Especially now I have so much time during the bubble. I mean, I'm in my room a lot. I started going to practice and a lot of times we're in our rooms. So, I spent quite the time on eBay. Just anywhere, everywhere searching for shoes. Sometimes I'll do it every single day. If I got a moment to myself I'll just check, see what's going on, anything's come up, anything new, anything old. It's just part of my life.
A couple of weeks ago it came out that the NBA was going to be making players wear their uniforms in the tunnel on the way to the games, but then quickly that changed about a day later. Why do you think that changed so quickly and how relieved are you that you don't have to show up in your uniform and you can wear whatever you want?
Really, honestly, as soon as that came out me and Russell [Westbrook] got on a call together. Like, “Nah, like there's no way.” That's something that I think as players, we feel that is our individuality. For years I've always felt like putting on my clothes or, like, I'm going to work, you know? And it's that mindset. It was being professional. It was being me, it was being PJ. It was being whoever. So taking that away just because we’re in the bubble is just not cool. I think the NBA has seen that, see how much we care about that, and kind of backed away from it because we can't shower at the gyms here; we have to pack our stuff up and leave and go back. So it just wasn't a good situation.
What has been the biggest difference that you've noticed being in the bubble and the way it was before?
Living in a hotel room—it's like the longest training camp ever, that's what it feels like right now. Because we're not playing games here. I think it will change once we play games every other day. But right now it just feels like a really long training camp honestly, because you just go from the gym to your room. It would not be another league that does that, we literally will not leave this property for months. So yeah, that's probably the biggest difference
We talked about the tunnel. Is it different now planning these tunnel outfits, because you're kind of just going from your hotel room to the court; you're getting dressed up with nowhere to go. Like yesterday we saw you were wearing the Travis VIs before practice and then you put on those Kobe Vs.
No, no, I will be very clear, it's not dressing up. It's not like putting on a costume or putting on a suit. It's just putting on my clothes. Stuff I would wear anyways even if I didn't have a game. However you're feeling, to me it's more about that. Everybody talks about tunnel fits and stuff like that, that's cool. But before they were taking pictures in the tunnels it was always what you wore, now it's just giving people insight and they put these labels and kind of made this whole thing about it. But honestly, Russell's always wearing that stuff. Guys back in the day always. Cuttino Mobbley always had on suits every single game. I've never seen Cuttino without a suit. He used to always have on suits. That's what he did, you know what I'm saying? So in my mind that wasn’t him getting ready for tunnel fits, there wasn’t no League Fits. That's just how he dressed. You know what I'm saying? And I think that should be...people should understand that. Because that's really where he draws from.
So I mentioned those Kobes you wore yesterday, it's a new color we haven't seen yet. Is there anything special about that colorway?
It's my colorway, it's my PE. Yeah those are my PEs, and I've been wearing them. That's what I wear most of the practices now, just getting them ready for games. I like to break those in to have them ready. So, when I need a swap out or I want to swap out, Tony, our equipment manager, he always has them in our bag. You're ready. The ones I've already kind of broken in, they're just ready. So I tell him, he has them ready, he can bring them out to the court, whatever. So I wear practice right now just to get them ready for next week.
So is there a lot of, like, the sneaker collection comparison going on in the bubble? I'm sure nobody can mess with what you brought, but is there anybody that you've noticed that has like the second best collection of sneakers in the bubble?
No, I haven't seen. We can't go to each other's room, so nobody could go in each other's rooms. I'm sure nobody else probably even brought that many pairs of shoes. Like most guys don't care, they got this stuff and they do the thing. They just keep it moving. I'm sure there a few guys that got some good stuff and brought some good stuff with them. But I know a bunch of guys that didn't bring anything—they just going to wear team sweats and do their thing. They're like, "Nobody's here, so what am I getting dressed for?"
I'm sure you have plenty of stuff ready that we haven't seen, but is there anything you'd give us a little insight on any crazy sneakers we're going to see you wear on the court?
Nothing too crazy. I don't know what's crazy anymore. [It] got to the point where I've worn so much stuff. I always say this—stuff that's crazy to me, most people would like just kind of pass over. They wouldn't even think about it being crazy. You know what I'm saying? I always talk about the older stuff that really made me really fall in love with sneakers and really the whole culture. And that's like these early-to-mid ’90s Nikes that like I said other people don’t think about. Thinking about the shoes had a super crazy impact on me. You'll see the culture, period. So I always look for those pairs—those pairs are always super crazy to me. Even more than the rare Kobes, the rare Jordans. Those are the pairs for me.
Stuff like those Chris Bosh All Star PEs, stuff like that?
Yeah, I loved those. I remember seeing him first wear those when I was in Toronto. The following year after I left Toronto he had those Huaraches. Those were crazy. Then I asked him for a pair and I don't think he had anymore. He didn't know where they were or something. And then boom, I found them on eBay.
So you have this new storage loft that's got close to your 4,000 pairs of sneakers. How long did it take to build this loft and what went into the process of designing it?
I bought it and then threw my shoes in there. It took long getting everything set up. All the boxes, taking the clear boxes...loading those up and then getting rid of the original boxes cause I rarely keep original boxes unless I love the box. Unless it's a really classic box I enjoy, I get rid of all their original boxes. So that process takes forever and it's tedious and trying to get all the shoes in order, having all Air Maxes together, the Air Force 1s together, all the SB Dunks together, it took quite a while. It took quite a long time, it took...months and months to have the time to go look there and do it. But everything was cool when you actually get it done and have eBay come in and shoot.