Throughout his career, Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker has made his love of basketball icon Kobe Bryant known often. And after the untimely passing of the Los Angeles Lakers legend, the NBA sneaker king continues to do so.
Ahead of the Jan. 29 road matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center, Tucker spoke with FN about the impact Bryant had on his career.
“When I think about the reason — you know, you think about the reason you do some of the things you do — for me personally, he’s a part of the reason why I am who I am as a basketball player, and recently seeing him evolve into the next part of his life and for me to aspire to be what he was doing, even in that part it’s still even hard to put into words,” Tucker told FN.
He continued, “I don’t know what other profession that you can, or whatever facet of life, that you can become friends with your idol. I don’t know many people that get to do that.”
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Tucker is fond of Bryant’s signature sneakers with Nike and has worn several hard-to-find pairs during games. He has publicly spoken about on-court battles with Bryant, including a matchup during his days with the Phoenix Suns where he was wearing a rare Nike Kobe style and left the arena with others gifted to him by the Black Mamba. Tucker has even worn a pair of the Nike Kobe 1 Protro that was autographed by Bryant himself.
Although his admiration of Bryant’s shoes knows no bounds, Tucker would rather have the baller recognized for his tireless work ethic.
“[I want him to be remembered] for exactly what he was — the toughest, most hardworking, the you-may-not-like-me-but-you’re-going-to-respect-me [attitude],” Tucker said. “The example. He was the example.”
Bryant, who was 41, died in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash in California alongside his daughter Gianna and seven others.
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