PJ Tucker had a winding path to sticking in the NBA. He was a second round pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Raptors, appearing in 17 games before leaving the league to play overseas until an eventual return to the NBA in 2012.
Appearing on The Old Man & The Three Podcast, Tucker got into why ending up in Toronto was a bad spot for him and how he didn’t help his own cause with how he handled it. Talking to hosts JJ Redick and Tommy Alter, Tucker noted how he was drafted on a team that already had a lot of wings and didn’t have the infrastructure to help him acclimate to the league.
“Nobody was helping me, right?,” Tucker said. “It was like I was competition. And I didn’t play, so that was tough for me not really getting a chance to play because because coming from college you’re an All-American, you’re all these things and you go to the NBA think about what you’re going to do here and then you don’t. I did not react to that well. I didn’t. I was terrible.”
Crash course in learning how to be a pro from PJ Tucker pic.twitter.com/bM6gavLgT7
— JJ Redick (@jj_redick) October 28, 2021
“I was really bad,” Tucker continued. “I would show up right before practice. I was just doing whatever I wanted. I’m not playing, I don’t care not knowing that they’ll cut you and let you go. It’s funny now because I try to help so many of the young guys when I see them acting like me I’ll be all over ’em, not letting them go down that path.”
Tucker went on to detail getting called into a meeting by Toronto’s brass after returning from a G League (then the D-League) stint just as the NBA playoffs were about to start. He recounted everyone sitting in there from the organization, including the general manager, team president and head coach. In the meeting, they showed him clips of him before, during and after the game just on the bench.
“To this day, it makes me sick to my stomach,” Tucker said. He noted that it wasn’t because of anything the Raptors did — it was all about he acted and conducted himself.
“That was the best thing that ever happened to me in my life,” he said. “It’s probably why I’ve never told this story because, like, I couldn’t tell my mom that. Like, no. Like, come on. Nobody can judge me harder than myself and that was the first time I’ve ever seen myself in that light.”
Tucker finished by saying that it wasn’t intentional and went back to the reality that it wasn’t an environment that was right for him as he tried to find his place in the NBA.
“I didn’t have vets on the team, guys over there grabbing me like how we do younger guys now,” he said. “If I had someone, maybe I wouldn’t have. But I didn’t know because nobody told me. It just wasn’t like that.”