Giannis Antetokounmpo gave Tucker his endorsement after the Nets series.

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“He keeps making everything tough on KD (Kevin Durant),” said Antetokounmpo. “He’s vocal. He’s a leader. He pushes us to be great. He’s definitely a big piece of this organization and this team. He’s going to keep helping us. We definitely need him moving forward.”

Texas basketball ex P.J. Tucker gets first career NBA title

A former standout two-way player out of the Texas basketball program found himself having a special night on July 20. Texas Ex and Milwaukee Bucks veteran forward P.J. Tucker got the first ring of his NBA career on the night of July 20 in his first season with the team. Tucker was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Bucks this season, and that seemed to be the change of scenery he needed.

Tucker had some deep playoff runs alongside superstar guard James Harden with the Rockets throughout the 2010s. But it only took him less than one full season with the Bucks to finally get over that postseason hump and get his first ring.

While Tucker played 36 minutes in this 105-98 win for the Bucks over the Phoenix Suns, he didn’t put up a single point. But like usual for Tucker, he did a lot of things well behind the scenes. Tucker did register six rebounds, one assist, and one steal while putting up a +13 in his time on the floor.

Tucker did see the former back-to-back MVP and Bucks superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo have a historic NBA Finals performance on this night. Giannis registered 50 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks, in this Bucks win over the Suns.

Standout former Texas basketball F P.J. Tucker gets his first ring with the Bucks

Moreover, this is a great underdog story for Tucker the entire way in his NBA career. He’s gone from being an overlooked undrafted free agent signing to a coveted veteran role player that has made multiple postseason appearances. And he finally got a ring to go along with all of the hard work he’s put in since his days with the Longhorns at the college ranks.

Tucker started in 18 of the 22 postseason games for the Bucks this year. But he did a lot of the dirty work for the Bucks while the top trio of Giannis, point guard Jrue Holiday, and shooting guard/small forward Khris Middleton stole the show offensively.

On his way to winning this NBA Finals series with the Bucks, Tucker had to knock off a fellow former Longhorn in the Brooklyn Nets superstar forward Kevin Durant. That might actually be the closest postseason series for the Bucks when they downed the Nets in the second round of the playoffs.


Here’s a Closer Look at PJ Tucker’s $250,000 USD Diamond Air Jordan 1

Totaling 32.74 carats and 150 grams of 14k white gold.

Details of P.J. Tucker‘s diamond-Swoosh Air Jordan 1s have just arrived. Worn by the NBA champion to the final game vs. the Suns, the shoes were made by Dominic Ciambrone, aka The Shoe Surgeon, along with Jason of Beverly Hills.

Priced at roughly $250,000 USD, the sneakers see 2,020 brilliant D color white diamonds set into 150 grams of 14k white gold. Taking approximately 100 hours to complete, the total carat weight of both pairs adds up to 32.74 ct. These kicks were so crazy that even MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has to call them out during the team’s victory press conference.


P.J. Tucker has only been on the Bucks for a few months but he’s given the team a toughness and winning mentality that the team hopes will help it win the NBA championship. Get to know Tucker here.

How long has Tucker been on the Bucks?

He’s been with the Bucks since March. He was acquired in a trade that sent D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson and the Bucks’ first-round picks in 2021 and 2023. The Bucks also acquired the Rockets’ 2021 second-round selection and their 2022 first-round pick.

Has he played for other teams?

Yes. Tucker was drafted by the Toronto Raptors in 2006 and spent one season there before playing in Europe for five years. He returned to the NBA and played for the Phoenix Suns for the 2012-’13 season and spent the next 4½ years there. He was traded to Toronto and finished the rest of the 2016-’17 season with the Raptors. Tucker signed a four-year deal with Houston in that offseason. He spent 3½ years with the Rockets.

Where is Tucker from?

He’s from Raleigh, North Carolina.

Bucks forward P.J. Tucker was the primary defender on Nets superstar Kevin Durant during the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bucks acquired Tucker in a trade with Houston in March.
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What’s Tucker known for?

His defense. He was the primary defender on Kevin Durant during the Eastern Conference semifinals. While Durant put up huge point totals, Tucker made his friend work for every point and even went nose-to-nose with the superstar during one scuffle in the series. He gives the Bucks a hard-nosed defender for the playoffs.

Tucker’s a seasoned veteran who entered the 2021 postseason with a lot of experience (50 games, 41 starts). He was part of the Rockets’ 2018 Western Conference Finals team, a run in which he shot 46.7% from three-point range.

Who’s Tucker’s family?

Tucker’s wife is named Tracey. They have three kids. His dad served in the Army, and he spent time living in Germany.

He was a star in the Euroleague. He was a German League champion in 2012, a season in which he was the Finals MVP and All Star. In 2008, while playing in Israel he was the Super League champion and MVP in 2008. That year he also was the Israeli Basketball Premier League Finals MVP. He also made the All-Star team while playing in the Ukrainian Super League.

He was a second-team All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year in 2006 at Texas.

Tucker and Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul were childhood friends in North Carolina.

Tucker and Hawks head coach Nate McMillan are both graduates of Enloe High in East Raleigh. They were both honored at the high school in 2019.

P. J. Tucker

P. J. Tucker
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Tucker with the Phoenix Suns in 2012
No. 17 – Milwaukee Bucks
Position Power forward / Small forward
League NBA
Personal information
Born May 5, 1985 (age 36)
Raleigh, North Carolina
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight 245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High school William G. Enloe
(Raleigh, North Carolina)
College Texas (2003–2006)
NBA draft 2006 / Round: 2 / Pick: 35th overall
Selected by the Toronto Raptors
Playing career 2006–present
Career history
2006–2007 Toronto Raptors
2007 Colorado 14ers
2007–2008 Hapoel Holon
2008–2010 Donetsk
2010 Bnei HaSharon
2010–2011 Aris Thessaloniki
2011 Sutor Montegranaro
2011 Piratas de Quebradillas
2011–2012 Brose Baskets
20122017 Phoenix Suns
2017 Toronto Raptors
20172021 Houston Rockets
2021–present Milwaukee Bucks
Career highlights and awards
Edit this at Wikidata
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at NBA.com
Edit this at Wikidata
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at Basketball-Reference.com


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Anthony Leon “P. J.” Tucker Jr. (born May 5, 1985)[1][2] is an American professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Texas Longhorns. He was the 2008 Israeli Basketball Premier League MVP, and Israeli Basketball Premier League Finals MVP.

High school and college

Tucker attended William G. Enloe High School in Raleigh, where he was named North Carolina Player of the Year in 2003 and his jersey number was later retired. In three seasons at the University of Texas at Austin, he scored 1,169 points, including a career-high 594 in the 2005–06 season. He also had 714 rebounds, 170 assists (including 107 in 2005–06), and 116 steals throughout his career with the Longhorns. After being unable to play most of his sophomore season due to poor academics, Tucker was named a second-team All-American and the Big 12 Player of the Year in his junior year.

Professional career

Toronto Raptors (2006–2007)

Tucker was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the 35th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and signed a two-year deal with them on July 26, 2006.

On January 5, 2007, the Raptors announced that Tucker had been sent to the Colorado 14ers of the NBA Development League. Colorado, led by head coach Joe Wolf, had been designated as Toronto’s D-League affiliate for the 2006–07 season. On February 6, 2007, the Raptors recalled Tucker to the NBA. On March 6, 2007, Tucker was sent back to the 14ers.

On March 24, 2007, Tucker was waived by the Raptors in order to free a roster spot for Luke Jackson. He played a total of 83 minutes during his rookie season with the Raptors.

In the offseason, Tucker joined 2007 Summer League roster for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Israel and Europe (2007–2012)

In the 2007–08 season with Hapoel Holon from Israeli Premier League, Tucker won the MVP trophy and led his team to the league title. Holon broke Maccabi Tel Aviv‘s 14-year streak as Israeli champions. He was the 2008 Israeli Basketball Premier League Finals MVP.

For the 2008–09 season he signed with a BC Donetsk team[10] that was just promoted to the Ukrainian Basketball Super League. He led the team to a current third place in the league at its first appearance there, as well as become a Ukrainian SuperLeague All-Star. A season ending knee injury didn’t prevent Tucker from finishing the season with the highest average of points per game in the league. On October 7, 2009, Tucker renewed his contract with Donetsk for the 2009–10 season. After the team bankrupted he returned to Israel in March 2010 and signed for Bnei HaSharon until the end of the season.

In August 2010, he signed with Aris BC for the 2010–11 season, but he was released in March 2011. In April 2011 he signed with Sutor Basket Montegranaro in Italy.

In July 2011, he signed a one-year deal with Brose Baskets Bamberg of Germany. He went on to help Brose Baskets win the 2012 championship; he also won the Finals MVP award.

Phoenix Suns (2012–2017)

During the summer of 2012, Tucker signed a contract to play for Spartak St. Petersburg of Russia, but he soon opted out of it to play for the Phoenix SunsNBA Summer League team, and on August 1, 2012, he signed a two-year deal with the Suns, with a team option in his second year.[20] In his first game back in the NBA, Tucker recorded 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in an 87–85 loss to the Golden State Warriors. On November 23, 2012, he scored a then career-high 15 points in a 111–108 overtime win over the New Orleans Hornets. Tucker made his first start for the Suns on December 31 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, as he started the majority of the Suns’ games for the rest of the 2012–13 NBA season.

On February 8, 2014, Tucker recorded 16 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and 4 steals in a 122–109 win over the Warriors, becoming the first Suns player to have 15 points, 15 rebounds and 4 steals in a game since Shawn Marion in 2007. On February 25, he tied his career high with a 15-rebound effort against the Minnesota Timberwolves. On April 6, Tucker scored a career-high 22 points in a 122–115 win over the Thunder.

On June 27, 2014, the Suns extended Tucker a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent. On July 23, he re-signed with the Suns to a three-year, $16.5 million contract. In August 2014, he was suspended for the first three games of the 2014–15 season without pay for pleading guilty to driving while under the extreme influence in May 2014. He returned from suspension on November 4, 2014, to face the Los Angeles Lakers.

On December 31, 2015, Tucker tied his career high of 22 points in a loss to the Thunder. On January 26, 2016, he recorded a career-high eight assists in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. On March 14, he scored a career-high 23 points in a 107–104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He topped that mark on April 7, scoring 24 points in a 124–115 win over the Houston Rockets. He played in all 82 games for the Suns in 2015–16, the only player to do so.

On September 15, 2016, Tucker underwent a successful low back microdiscectomy procedure and was subsequently ruled out for six to eight weeks. He returned in time for the start of the regular season, but was assigned a bench role for the first time since the 2012–13 season. He returned to the starting lineup in late November following an injury to T. J. Warren. On November 27, 2016, he scored a season-high 21 points against the Denver Nuggets. Tucker reassumed his bench role in late December following Warren’s return from injury; he continued coming off the bench for the Suns throughout the season until the All-Star break.

Return to Toronto (2017)

On February 23, 2017, Tucker was traded back to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Jared Sullinger, second-round draft picks in 2017 and 2018 and cash considerations. The next day, in his first game as a Raptor since 2007, Tucker had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in a 107–97 win over the Boston Celtics. On April 15, 2017, after playing 418 games over seven seasons, Tucker made his playoff debut in the Raptors’ 97–83 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. The Raptors went on to defeat the Bucks in six games to move on to the second round, where they faced the Cleveland Cavaliers. There they were swept 4–0 by the Cavaliers. In Game 4 of the series, a 109–102 loss, Tucker had 14 points and 12 rebounds in his first career playoff start.

Houston Rockets (2017–2021)

On July 6, 2017, Tucker signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Houston Rockets. In his debut for the Rockets in their season opener on October 17, 2017, Tucker scored 20 points in a 122–121 win over the Golden State Warriors. He hit two free throws with 44.1 seconds left to make it 122–121. On March 30, 2018, he scored 18 points and made a career-high five 3-pointers in a 104–103 win over the Suns.

In Game 5 of the Rockets’ first-round playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tucker scored a playoff career-high 15 points in a 122–104 series-clinching win. In Game 5 of the Rockets’ second-round series against the Utah Jazz, Tucker set a then new playoff career high with 19 points in a 112–102 series-clinching win. In Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Tucker set a new playoff career high with 22 points in a 127–105 win, helping the Rockets tie the series at 1–1. The Rockets went on to lose to the Warriors in seven games.

On January 7, 2019, Tucker set a career high with seven 3-pointers and scored a season-high 21 points in a 125–113 win over the Denver Nuggets.

On March 11, 2021, as the trade deadline approached, Tucker had mutually agreed with coach Stephen Silas to no longer play until both parties can find an amicable solution. This comes after James Harden left the Rockets earlier in the season. Prior to his exit, he posted career lows in points per game (4.4), field goal percentage (36.6%) and 3-point percentage (31.4%) in the 2020/21 season.

Milwaukee Bucks (2021–present)

On March 19, 2021, Tucker was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks with Rodions Kurucs in exchange for D. J. Augustin and D. J. Wilson; the teams also exchanged draft picks. Specifically, Houston pushed back the 2022 first-round pick Milwaukee owes them to the unprotected 2023 draft. Furthermore, the Rockets got the right to swap their 2021 second-round pick for the Bucks’ 2021 first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Tucker made his debut in a 120–113 win against San Antonio Spurs with zero points, three boards, and one block in 13 minutes on March 20, 2021.

On June 10, 2021, Tucker played a key role in the Bucks 86–83 win over the Brooklyn Nets, in which Tucker played the main part in holding Kevin Durant to an uncharacteristically low 11 of 28 field goal attempts made (37.5%). In Game 4, Tucker scored 13 points and added 7 rebounds in a 107–96 victory. The Bucks would go on to win the series in 7 games.

In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks, Tucker had only 5 points (but including a 3-point shot late in the 4th quarter to help seal the win) and 8 rebounds in a 118–107 victory. The win meant Tucker and the Bucks would advance to their first NBA Finals since 1974 and his first trip to the finals respectively. On July 20, 2021, Tucker and the Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals. This marks his first NBA Championship and the first championship since 1971 for the Milwaukee


NBA career statistics

Personal life

His real name is Anthony Leon Tucker Jr., but his dad called him “Pop Junior,” hence PJ. He spent part of his childhood living in Germany while his father served in the Army.

Tucker married long term girlfriend, Tracey Tucker. They share three children, King, Zoe, and Aaliyah.

Footwear and Fashion

Tucker is a self-proclaimed “sneakerhead” and owns thousands of pairs of sneakers, stored in several locations across the country. On August 22, 2016, SLAM Magazine named Tucker the solidified number 1 sneakerhead in the NBA, due to not only his number of shoes, but also their quality. Some of his shoes include rare “player edition” pairs of sneakers made for former NBA players such as Shawn Marion, Michael Finley, Josh Howard, and Eddie Jones, as well as some rare “Terror Squad” pairs designed by the rapper Fat Joe.

On his love of fashion, Tucker said “What regular people call stuntin’ is everyday life for me. Like, I get dressed up everyday. Everyday I leave the house, even if I just put on some sweats, it ain’t just some sweats. I’m puttin’ on something. I take my time to get dressed. I care about my appearance. If I look good, I play good. It all coincides, it all goes together, it’s a chain reaction.” in a June 2021 interview with GQ


P.J. Tucker Is Happy Being the Underdog

The NBA’s sneaker king talks his new Dolce&Gabbana collab, wrestling with Kevin Durant, and the challenges of shopping in Milwaukee.
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P.J. Tucker has always been a flashy guy. The “Sneaker King” of the NBA even has a separate home for his kicks. But Tucker’s been making noise in his day job, too. He’s had a whirlwind of a year: He was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Milwaukee Bucks, and just wrapped a grueling playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets that saw him guarding Kevin Durant for almost every minute of all seven games. His Bucks are now in the Eastern Conference Finals, where he’s sure to play a big role. But the style stuff doesn’t go out the window just because it’s the playoffs: Tucker’s also dropping a sneaker with Dolce & Gabbanna this week, solidifying his status as one of the most fashion-forward players of his era.

Tucker caught up with GQ for an exclusive conversation about his on-court scuffles with Durant, his secret account selling exclusive gear to players and anyone willing to buy, and the struggles of shopping in Milwaukee.

GQ: So tell me about this dazzling new Dolce & Gabbana sneaker you’re releasing this week.

PJ Tucker: Mannnnn! It’s crazy! Going over there for the fashion shows and everything we just had a natural likeness. I was feelin’ them forever. I always rocked with Dolce. But going over there, seeing operations and how they do everything, they just showed me love from the beginning. It was super organic.

Dolce has been hailing it as a combination of vitality and sportsmanship and passion and creativity. Is that actually what’s in the sneaker, or is it just something dope to walk around in?

It is! It’s all that plus some. For me, it’s like my vibe of a shoe. The “Miami” shoe. It’s in the name. I literally wore them in Miami. I told [Dolce], “I need them right now for this series,” because we were playing Miami in the first round. That was the vibe I had when creating them. Thinking about summertime, how I dress, where I am right now, the shoe embodies all of that. All in one. I think people will get that same vibe when they see them.

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Tucker’s “Miami” sneaker.Dolce&Gabbana
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You keep talking about the viiiibe of the project. What does that actually mean? How hands-on were you in the process? I want to make sure the proper vibes got into the sneaker to make sure it was in your image.

Obviously with Covid, it was tough—not being able to go there, not being able to go see people in person. But they literally did everything they could for me to be able to use all the materials. Literally: they sent boxes and boxes of different options. It was crazy. It took me days just to go through all of it. I had something in mind, then I switched it up, then I started seeing all the options I could do.

There’s a nineties feel to the drop. Was that intentional in the design planning for it?

One thousand percent. They say everything always comes back. And that’s totally my vibe right now: that super 90s feel, easy, monochromatic, like you can just throw it on with anything and rock out and be able to switch ya fits up with it. You can do so much with each pair.

How does a basketball player even get linked with Dolce & Gabbanna?

I don’t know, man! It’s just years and years of being me. [laughs] I know it sounds crazy but it’s the truth. People see how genuine you are, how much you love it, what you put into it, every day and every game. Obviously now with the tunnel walks, to transition to that into being able go to shows, then to be able to sit there and have conversations with Dolce & Gabbana, it was insane. So, through relationships and being genuine and honest and having fun, really showing that you enjoy this. It’s bigger than just being able to make a shoe.

What was the timeline for the creation of this?

I started going to shows two years ago. Then, the opportunity came up. We talked about it for a while and when we got offered the opportunity it was right around when Covid first hit. The whole process was all through Covid.

Should I play basketball in ‘em?

You can do anything in em! Whatever in ‘em! If you like low-tops and that’s ya thing then you can hoop in ‘em, you know what I’m saying? [laughs]

I’ma have to put some threes up in them, man!

You remember Gilbert Arenas wore some Dolce’s in a game one time. Back in the day. I don’t know if you remember that. I ain’t mad, fasho.

In the last few years we’ve seen the proverbial NBA runway become something much more important. Why have we seen such a focus on fashion for the evolution for the modern NBA athlete?

It’s always been there, man. Everyone always talks about this. That’s so untrue. It’s always been a lot of guys into fashion throughout sports. Not even just basketball.

Think about, Deion Sanders back in the nineties. But they just didn’t have the cameras. Now it’s cameras everywhere you go. There’s all the sites purely dedicated to tunnel walks and everything else we do in our lives. We get photographed so much. It’s just the evolution of social media that’s changed it, bumped it up, and now people can see what you’re doing everyday.

What compels you to want to stunt to this level? I’ll go on Instagram and I’ll see you in a custom Carolina Hurricanes jersey and matching Goyard bag and I feel poor.

It’s not even that! What regular people call stuntin’ is everyday life for me. Like, I get dressed up everyday. Everyday I leave the house, even if I just put on some sweats, it ain’t just some sweats. I’m putin’ on something. I take my time to get dressed. I care about my appearance. If I look good, I play good. It all coincides, it all goes together, it’s a chain reaction. I’ve been this way since high school. It’s a big deal to me and it always has been. It’s not stuntin’! It’s all about how it feels.

Your stylist said that the way you do fashion is “you haven’t seen this yet.” Or you hold onto items for a long time. Are you consistently buying pieces to unveil before games and events? I know you have an entire house just for your sneakers.

I just buy pieces. Every day I buy pieces. I find stuff I like and I may not have what else I’m thinking I want to wear that with. I see it and I see the vision for it, but I’ll find a jacket I like or some pants. I may not have something right then, but I’ll put it in the closet and duck off. I revisit it later until I get something and start messing with it. Like, I’ll start putting an outfit together and it may take a month or two before it’s fully together. It’ll just be out and everyday I’ll see it.

So you just have hella clothes all around ya house? Combos on the couch and shit?

Everrrrywhere around my house. It drives my wife crazy. It’s just stuff everywhere. That’s part of the game. Everything I buy I don’t wear right then. I know people do that, they buy the mannequin and wear it right there. That’s cool, but I try to do my own thing. Some of that stuff is cool later. Something that’s really hot right now? I like it but I may be seeing a lot of people wear it so I don’t really wanna wear it. I may bring it back way later with some shoes I wasn’t thinking about before.

I’m glad you brought that up. Do you ever get worried another player will be wearing the same high-end piece you’ve purchased? Like, you wore a Valentino shirt in the playoffs and Jayson Tatum had the same shirt a few games before.

Nahhhhh. It’s fashion. So many people are into it. People are gonna have it unless you get something made for you that’s special. But I’m always gonna wear it differently than someone else. In my head, I knew I’d wear that shirt with no shirt under it. I knew exactly. I saw it on the runway. It was automatic. I hit them up as soon as the show was over saying I need that shirt. [Tatum]’ll wear it one way. I’ll wear it one way. Somebody else’ll wear it another way. It’s all in the front of fashion.

Who do you think has the best style in the NBA? And you can’t say yourself.

[laughs] ouuuuuuuuu!

You can give me a few if you want.

[Russell Westbrook] is dope. Russ is always dope. Russ does his thing. I like the kid Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander], too. Shai is dope.

Yeah, he’s special

He’s different! He’s the face of the young boys right now. Yeah, those two. I like both of them. Rudy Gay does his thing, too. He be in the cut but he do his thing.

In every generation of the NBA there’s rumors about players who sell personal items from their closets to other athletes. Whether it’s sneakers, hats, sunglasses or individual pieces. You get so much exclusive stuff for your personal collection, did you ever think about doing that?

Yeahhhh. Sometimes. We talk about it. Some stuff I get, it’s a one-time wear and I’ll sell it. I’ll do that. The special stuff? Nahhhh. I ain’t there yet. Maybe one day I’ll get there, but not right now. But, I’ll throw it on The Real Real . I’ll [sell] in different places. If you keep everything, that’s impossible. It’s too much stuff. You’ve got to get rid of some stuff.

I’ll have to find your secret Ebay page.

That’s the key!

Give me the five best sneakers you own right now. Or your five favorites.

Woooo. That’s tough. My Jordan 1 85 Chicago’s and Breds. Those are always in the tuck, I always have a fresh pair of those. My OG Skunk Dunks, I’ve been wearing those a lot lately, day to day. My Cactus Plant Flea Market Dunks. I’ve been wearing those a lot. I love those. And uhhhhh, the fifth is gonna be my Dolce & Gabanna shoe.

How much do they feel all this flexin’ in Milwaukee, though? Do they have the same sense for that fashion and appreciate it?

Where the fashion is, the cameras will come! Man, they gon’ see you. We in the Eastern Conference Finals right now, too. It’s different in Milwaukee. We are doing something special. It’s a lot of eyes on us.

How’s your acclimation to Milwaukee been, both for the city and the franchise? Especially after a team traded you away and you find yourself in the Eastern Conference Finals.

It’s been good. It’s been an adjustment, you know, life wise. Everyday living is a little different [laughs]. But, the team is really good, the front office is great. It’s all love here. When you’re winning, everyone gets along. It makes it a lot easier.

You said “life-wise.” What do you mean by that?

Like, I go shopping. I’ve been in cities, really good cities in the past, and during the day, I don’t sleep before games. That’s my time. I like to go walking, I walk to stores, thrift shops, I be doing stuff. And Milwaukee isn’t really known for those types of things.

Yeah….that’s not fair [laughs].

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Tucker in a powerful fit of recent vintage.

What’s it been like to play with Giannis Antetokounmpo? His style of basketball in the way Milwaukee plays is not always something everyone can fit into seamlessly. It’s him and then a bunch of shooters around him. How’s it been for you to slide into these lineups?

It’s been easy. He’s such a good player and demands so much attention. For guys like me that play their role and do their job, it’s the perfect fit. His personality and the way he is even with Jrue [Holiday] and Khris Middleton, they all really fit each other personality-wise. It’s more about that to me than the court, because that part makes the court a lot easier.

How do you envision the level of success you’ll have here? In recent years there have been some flops and everyone didn’t have you guys in the Eastern Conference Finals. How’s it feel for you to be doubted and now ahead of the curve?

That’s exactly how I want it to be. I don’t want nobody to think we gonna be anywhere. We just gonna play and that’s what it’s been up to this point. Regardless of where they picked us and what they think, we know what we got. Look at our team. I don’t know how it’s hard for anyone to say that our roster isn’t as good as anyone’s in the league. I’d rather be the underdog. It’s easier to play from that standpoint than everybody picking you.

Would you have rather had the Hawks or the Sixers as your matc—

It doesn’t matter. It. Don’t. Matter. We’ve said that from the beginning. Even knowing we had Brooklyn in the second round, we didn’t care. We aren’t ducking anybody. We not trying to lose games to play a certain [team]. We not doing that. Whoever we get we play and we go from there. That’s how you gotta carry it because you have to go through everybody, anyway. So no need to try and pick and choose who you gonna play. Just strap up.

You had an out of this world assignment guarding Kevin Durant, maybe the best scorer of this generation of players. What’s it like to prepare for that?

Just play, man. It’s not even preparing because you know it’s coming. It’s a super essential part of it. Just play, block out all the media, everybody talking part of it. Just play basketball. Leave it all on the floor. 110%. All of those cliches. It’s just that. That’s it

It’s easy enough to say “I just gotta lock in,” but you had a very specific assignment that other people in the league can’t prepare for. So how did you get ready?

I’m telling you: I didn’t. I just played, man. Mentally, to be at this level, if you are gonna be a defender and one of those guys, you just have to lock in and play. It’s so much talk. Everybody saying, “He’s unguardable, you can’t guard him.” You just have to lock in and play. It’s having that confidence in yourself knowing you’re gonna go out and do your job every single night and leave it all out on the floor and whatever happens, happens. Knowing you are going out there to battle is the key. Just go into battle.

It seemed to get chippy during the last series. Durant’s personal bodyguard even came onto the court. What was it like being in the middle of that?

It’s the heat of the moment, man. You go to war like that, it’s so many variables. It got blown a little out of proportion, me personally. It wasn’t as big as people made it. Obviously all y’all mad, but down there, you are ready to blow up at everything at that point. You leaving it all on the floor, doing everything you can for your team to win. When it gets chippy like that, it is what it is. But, KD is my brother, so it’s all good.

Aren’t y’all good friends? Did you talk to him about it at all?

Briefly, man. Like I said, it’s so much bigger than that. It’s so small in the scheme of everything. We both just hoopers and we wanted to compete and get after it. We argue all the time on the court. We fight all the time on the court. It’s nothing new. That was nothing.

You even had guys like Draymond Green saying the league has gotten soft after watching the spat. How do you keep it narrow on basketball when you have a blowup of this sort?

It’s different, man. He’s probably [comparing] the nineties and how things used to be to now. You competing. It’s like playing anywhere else. Dudes be ready to fight at YMCAs and parks. Now with all the techs and ejections and stuff, they are trying to clean it up. But that’s not something that’ll ever get cleaned up like that, in all sports, it’s a part of it.

And when you have someone who plays the type of physical defense like you do it can jumpstart that environment. Steve Nash even said this was “non-basketball.”

He’s gonna protect his player. He’s gonna say whatever he has to say to protect his player. It’s gonna make everybody look at it and if you are physical, maybe the referees change the call the other way. He’s a coach and he wants to win. He’s gonna do whatever he can to win.

Even Wanda Durant told you she loved you on the court.

That’s my brother, and she knows that we compete. For 48 minutes or however long that game was, it goes out the window. Everyone wants to win. She wasn’t even talking to me, she was talking to the ref and I turned and told her “I love her.”

One of the bigger things in the league is that players have been a bit more public about what type of wines they enjoy. How do you unwind?

I always go to dinner on the road, especially. Being one of the older guys I always have dinners and have some of the guys come. I’ve always been a wine guy, too. I love my burgundies. That’s my favorite. There’s no other wine. Depending on what the food is and my mood and what I’m feeling: if I want white burgundy, red burgundy, maybe a little Chablis. Normally, it’s burgundy. I go straight there more times than not. Outside of most steak houses or Italian places, if I’m eating red meat, I’m drinking red burgundy.

How have you been able to protect your mind in the last year of the NBA season? The schedule is much tighter, more back to backs, a slew of playoff injuries. How did you function in this rabid environment?

It was tough for all players: going to the bubble to coming out, to starting the season off early and then playing so many games, so fast. I think it was a relief for guys to be back on the floor in arenas once fans started coming. Mentally, that was good. That was a relief.

But with fans back in the arenas, it’s inviting another environment as well. We’ve seen an uptick in racist disturbances from fans in places like New York, to Philly, to Utah. Dwyane Wade told me the other day that it felt like people haven’t acclimated back to real life yet. As a player, what’s it felt like looking around the playoffs and seeing this?

You don’t think about that. That’s the last thing. It’s in the back of my mind. Fans gonna be fans. Everybody has been locked up in the house and you have a few instances with some people. But in my experience, everything has been great, even in Brooklyn. Trash talk or whatever but everyone’s been respectful, it’s been all in the fun of the game. I love it. And it’s a great part of the game. Our team going in there, going against an entire arena, and everybody being mad once you win. There’s no better feeling than that. I enjoy that. I love that. It’s great. It puts a fire in me. We all ready, there’s nothing else someone can say to make me wanna win more or play harder. It just adds fuel to the fire.

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