PJ Tucker's Stylist Kesha McLeod Explains The Strategy Behind Dressing Him During The NBA Playoffs
PJ Tucker's stylist Kesha McLeod breaks down some of the Milwaukee Bucks forward's best pregame outfits from the 2021 NBA Playoffs thus far.
Image via Getty/Gary Dineen
For anyone familiar with PJ Tucker, it is no secret that the Milwaukee Bucks forward has a penchant for fashion. His vast collection of rare sneakers has garnered him the title of NBA sneaker king over the last few years. Sometimes he wears things that are so exclusive, people don’t even know how he got them. Take the “PRFC” Air Jordan 5, a PE made for Carmelo Anthony and his NASL soccer team in Puerto Rico, that he wore back in April. Melo was even in shock when he saw Tucker wearing them. His fashion sense extends beyond sneakers too. He released a collection of sunglasses with Temples and Bridges back in February. He opened a boutique, Better Generation, in Houston. And with the help of highly-regarded stylist Kesha McLeod he continues to put together some of the best outfits we see in the NBA pregame tunnel night in and night out.
Tucker is a mainstay among the league’s best dressed players at this point, but the first two rounds of the 2021 NBA Playoffs have been especially notable. From delicate, crocheted Valentino pieces to monochromatic denim sets to lauded sneakers, his outfits have provided a great balance between runway pieces and nods to streetwear like snapback caps from Tuff Crowd or vintage graphic T-shirts from Roots BK.
“We have hints of, ‘you’ve never seen this yet,’ or holding onto items he hasn’t worn in years or somebody gifted him years ago. So we bring things out like that. That’s usually how the playoff process goes with him in particular,” McLeod tells Complex.
As much as Tucker is noted for his style in the tunnel, what happens on the court does still take precedence of course. McLeod says she knows when to discuss the next game fit and when to leave a player like Tucker to himself to lock in on the game, especially during the playoffs. Recently, Tucker’s Bucks found themselves down 2-0 in their series against the Nets (the Bucks are currently down 3-2 in the series). McLeod may not be as involved in the planning leading up to games like that, but it doesn’t mean that Tucker is going to phone in his fit just because he’s in the middle of a challenging series.
“He’s the type like, ‘Imma do it anyway. I don’t have down days. Yeah, we’re down, but I’m not going to have that mess up my spirit.’ He still looks on the brighter side of things,” McLeod tells Complex. “I try not to talk to [the players I’m styling] as much during playoffs because I know there’s a certain level of focus.”
With the 2021 NBA Playoffs currently in full swing, we spoke to McLeod about some of Tucker’s most notable tunnel looks from the past couple of weeks. Check out what she had to say about each below.
Key Piece: Green Valentino crochet bowling shirt
The standout piece here is obvious. It’s that green crochet shirt from Valentino embroidered with large pink flowers. Quite frankly, while all of Tucker’s playoff looks thus far have been strong, this is the one that pretty much inspired this list. He kept the rest of the outfit simple here with brown trousers, “Neptune Green” Kasina x Nike Dunk Lows, and a pair of his own sunglasses collab with Temples and Bridges. And who doesn’t love a pregame coffee? The floral bowling shirt is a rather fitting choice when you consider he was in Miami at the time. Pure vacation vibes. McLeod notes that Tucker initially took a liking to the shirt when it was first presented on the runway back in September 2020 in Milan during the designer’s Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear show. But due to the production restrictions of the pandemic, it took a bit longer to actually get the piece in hand.
McLeod was hesitant about Tucker wearing the Valentino shirt though. Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum had worn it a few games earlier and she didn’t want it to seem repetitive. There were some tweaks though that made each look its own. Tatum wore it unbuttoned with a white tank top underneath and paired it with tan trousers, while Tucker opted for a buttoned-up look, no undershirt, and darker pants. She notes the great relationship she and Tucker have been able to build with many designers, like Valentino, over the years is very important to the whole equation.
“I let PJ talk to these people personally because it’s good to have the client interact. It’s good for me to talk to PR, but it’s also better if the client becomes their friend.”
Key Piece: Orange Dolce and Gabbana logo bag
Here, Tucker decided to let his accessories be the standout. He paired his all-blue ensemble, a denim jacket, jeans, and T-shirt from the Heron Preston for Calvin Klein collection, with a bright orange Dolce & Gabbana bag embossed with the house’s interlocking D&G logo and an equally loud pair of orange low top sneakers. At the time, the Knicks were still in the playoffs, so there was slight hesitancy to wear the team’s signature blue and orange color scheme, but McLeod’s solution was to break up the colors by altering some pieces.
“It was Knicks colors and the Knicks were in the playoffs, so I’m like, ‘You don’t wanna wear Knicks colors, but if you do, it needs to be broken up. Those weren’t shorts. They were pants,” says McLeod. She notes that the shorts were cut from a pair of straight-legged jeans, an alteration especially for Tucker.