CHARLOTTE, N.C. — During a jam-packed All-Star Weekend, Houston Rockets forward PJ Tucker sat down with B/R Kicks to talk grails, his peers and the current state of the sneaker game. Tucker is widely known as the undisputed NBA Sneaker King, showcasing heat such as the Nike Air Fear of God 1 and OVO x Air Jordan 4 and even unveiling his first Nike player exclusive this season.
Tucker explained that having some of the hottest kicks in the game and being crowned the Sneaker King isn't one of his top goals, and he's not doing it for clout—just wearing what he loves and sticking to it.
B/R Kicks: Sometimes we at B/R Kicks feel like the sneaker game is a little clustered; everybody's doing the same thing or whatever is hot. To that point, is there anything you think is corny in the sneaker game?
PJ Tucker: It's a lot of stuff that corny in the sneaker game, like you really wanna. Hey listen, is that how we starting this interview? [laughs]
It's a lot of corny-ass stuff in the sneaker game, dog. But at the end of the day, you know what it's like? It's like the OG rap game versus the new guys. That's the sneaker game in essence. It's the exact same thing, man. I just had a full-blown conversation because I'm a Jay-Z, Wu Tang, Mobb Deep [fan], like for real. That's the kind of rap I like. So yeah, I rock with the new dudes, but [old-school rap] is where it's at. So it's like the sneaker game, everybody's like, "Yo, the Off-White whatever."
Everybody trying to jump back on SBs when nobody was wearing it [before]. That's the funniest thing to me, the most. Dog, nobody was wearing. Yo, I was wearing SBs three or four years ago. Nobody posted nothing. I'm talking about Heinekens, I'm talking about the craziest SBs ever, pictures right there. Nobody said a word. You know what I'm saying? And that's the thing about the sneaker game.
It's life, it's how people go with social media and how stuff goes, you know? It's how it is.
B/R: I like the rap analogy for that.
PJ: Yeah. That's how it is and then if I say, "Yo yo, everybody corny, everybody this, everybody that," they all be like, "Oh, he old, he hatin'." Nobody do that old stuff no more, you know what I'm saying? So that's how it is.
B/R: So, I'm sure a lot of people around you are trying to get into the sneaker game. Do you have any advice for them?
PJ: Yo, that's the number one thing I always get asked and I always say the same thing, dog. Wear what you love. Buy and wear what you love, man. I don't buy or wear nothing I don't like. There's nothing, nobody can pay me enough money and nobody can do enough for me to wear something I don't want. Everything I wear, I wear.
I don't buy nothing I don't love, dog. Nothing. Not one pair of shoes I have right now that I don't love. Even ones that's given to me, if I don't love them I'm gonna give them to somebody else that might love them. And I think that's the like core central to this whole game, like really having and loving what you do. It don't make sense otherwise. Like what are you doing it for?
Yo, you put anything and put a drawstring on it with Off-White and [people] be like, "Yo, these the joints!" and you just got them from Walmart. And everybody like, "Oh, they fire!" You know what I'm saying? They on StockX for $600, that's how it is.
B/R: Has anyone ever tried to pull a fast one on you? Try to sell you fake kicks at all?
PJ: Dog, you know what? It's hard to sell a fake pair of 14s. [laughing] That's so funny. Yo, I've never seen a fake pair of 14s, but the stuff I'm looking for, ain't no fakes of that stuff. Everybody has fakes of new releases; like some Off-White, but I don't buy stuff like that. It'd be harder to get me, it'd be harder to get me. That's funny though. [laughs]
B/R: You got your first PE this season? How'd that come about?
PJ: Dog, it was one of those things as a player. I may not say it, but to have your own PE, like it wasn't even the shoe. I'm a real shoe guy, it was the box. That box being in my house, dog, the sample box, like those are mine. My name's on that box. That's crazy as a shoe guy. A guy that flipped boxes all day every day, that's a big deal. So for me that was everything. You know what I'm saying? I don't care what shoe's inside, that box has my name on it and label. That's crazy.
B/R: It's a moment.
PJ: It's a moment for real, man, and you appreciate it. Especially when it come later. I had to work for mine, so you know, it make you appreciate it a million times more.
B/R: You obviously have a lot of shoes, everything you really want. Did you have a grail? What was the first grail that you got?
PJ: No, that's probably the most asked question and you know I don't know about grails. I never had a grail per se, because I always wanted a shoe, and then I'll be like figuring out how to get it.
So that's the thing, you know. Especially for my size and for old stuff, cuz it's more old stuff, all the new stuff you can get.
So I live it every day, texting, hitting guys, emailing, you know, DMing, hitting collectors, there's so many dudes out there that has so much heat and they won't sell it. So you gotta work them like, "Oh, I got this." Or you gotta know them. He a big Kobe fan, "Oh, I got these stashed Kobes signed, Kobe signed them for me. Yo, you wanna trade these?" You know what I'm saying?
B/R: You feel like you gotta work then?
PJ: No I do! A thousand percent, I'm PJ Tucker and it makes it worse. First of all the price goes up, and second they want more. "Yo, it's PJ Tucker I could get more" and "Oh, I know you got something crazy, what you got?" And that's they favorite. The real collectors, 'what you got? What you got?' Yeah, so dog, dudes will want [to trade] for real. I got a bunch of Jordan signed stuff and they be wanting the Jordan signed stuff, Kobe signed stuff.
B/R: So have you traded it or nah?
PJ: I've traded it for some stuff and I'm not even a trader, I'm not a seller or a trader really, but yeah. If it's something I want that bad. Especially if I want to hoop in it.
B/R: What's one shoe you feel like you've had to hoop in this season?
PJ: That's [Nike Zoom LeBron 6] "Stewie." That's the Stewie 6, dog. You talkin' about grails, I never had a grail like I said, but it was like mythical finding the Stewies. But to find a Stewie in your size, with the box? With the whole kit and caboodle.
B/R: We're talking about your peers. Who is even close to you?
PJ: On all levels? So this is my thing, when you talk about that kinda stuff, it's like levels of it for me.
Cuz like CP, Russ, they got every Jordan. You can't battle them with Jordans. You go to CP's house, CP will f--k you up. No, no, no, real s--t. CP got every Jordan [Michael] Jordan got. CP s--t crazy.
B/R: I saw him pull out the [Air Jordan 11] Jeters a while ago.
PJ: Dog! Listen! That story, everybody wanna talk about Jordan story. Yo, I walked in [the locker room], I had never seen that Jeter. I got on my phone, I know CP ain't seen it. I'm like, "CP, there no f--king way you seen this. Yo CP, you seen this Jeter, they got this s--t for $15,000!" CP said, I swear to God, he said, "Let me see it." Twenty-four hours [later] he walked into the gym with those shoes on!
Listen! I swear to y'all I have never.
B/R: He tried to humble you for a second.
PJ: No, it was the number one most humbling experience of my life. I swear, CP did not, I swear CP can say what he wants, he didn't have them.
Oh he hid them. I'm telling y'all right now he hid them just to s--t on me, I know he did. And he did, he royally s--tted on me. And that is still the number one of my life of being s--tted on, like no other.
So that's what I'm saying it's like levels. You go to Russ, Russ will do the same thing.
CP got one-of-ones nobody see and all that s--t, but who has the avenue of everything? Who got the ASICS? Who got the rare New Balances? And that's the thing. That's what I'm saying. Like who's really doing that? Who really does every avenue of that shit?
B/R: It's different.
PJ: It is and that's the thing, I can't, you know. I can't show everything cuz I'm with Nike so I can't show you everything I got. But that's the thing, you know what I'm saying?
B/R: All right, switching it up. What's one shoe you hooped in when you were like, "I can't ball in these again"? Performance-wise, something happened and it ripped or whatever?
PJ: I rip shoes all the time, so...2K4s are impossible, I don't give a f--k how you kept them over the years, they're gonna rip. I don't care.
Dude, the one pair that stuck more than any was the, everyone thought it was the Penny, but it really was Allan Houston. Everyone's like, "Pennies"; I'm like, "No, the H20s Allan Houston." They're not Pennies. But those held up, best pair I ever had held up.
But that shoe break like instantaneous, like the whole sole. Every time.
[Air Jordan] 16s too. I had some "Ray Allen" 16s, they even took pictures of them cuz I was hot. I didn't want to hoop with them cuz I knew they was gonna break since I broke "Gingers." Gingers were top 25. The Ginger 16s for me, like on and off court, those shoes are crazy to me so bro I'm talking about, I got on the court [boom]. In warm-ups full sole. If y'all ever interview Eric Bledsoe, my whole Phoenix team, they used to kill me. They were like, "Oh, Tuck wears the fugazis, he got the fake shoes." [laughs] They always breaking.
B/R: When you were younger, what was the hoop shoe that got you into the sneaker game?
PJ: I was born in '85 [and] my mother bought Jordan 1s. Isn't that crazy? That's my first shoe ever. My grandfather bronzed them. Back in the day in the '80s they used to do that s--t, right? Maybe it's some country s--t. This is way before I was PJ Tucker. It was like a picture on your mantle or some s--t. It was the '80s, it was in the '80s! [laughs] That's what they did. So my first pair of shoes, my Jordan 1s.
I was born in '85 and those were my first pair of shoes. I gotta be who I am now. How do you not, right?