Skip to main content

How a meeting with the Raptors changed the course of PJ Tucker's career


Eleven years into his NBA career, Miami Heat'sPJ Tucker has become the ultimate veteran leader. But as a rookie, he was the exact opposite. Until the Raptors gave him a maturity lesson, helping Tucker become the player he is today.

A meeting that changed everything

Coming from the University of Texas, Tucker had to fight through D-League before making his NBA debut with the Raptors. Even when he got the opportunity to become a member of an NBA roster, Tucker never felt he was given a chance to showcase his talent on the floor. But instead of working hard, trying to prove his worth to the team, the 21-year-old started taking everything for granted.

"I was really bad," Tucker said. "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 ended up playing in 17 games during his rookie campaign and was cut by the Raptors right before the postseason started. He was called into a meeting with everyone from the organization, including the GM, team president, and head coach, and was given the biggest reality check of his young basketball career.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

It turns out the Raptors, despite not counting on Tucker to have a significant impact on the floor, held the rookie to the same standard of professionalism as the rest of the roster. So even when he wasn't playing, a certain code of conduct had to be respected. And after they showed PJ clips of him on the bench before, during, and after the games, it became clear his demeanor was far below the standard the organization held him to.

To this day, it makes me sick to my stomach. That was the best thing that ever happened to me in my life. 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.

PJ Tucker, The Old Man and the Three

Immaturity turned into leadershp

Seeing himself in that light prompted Tucker to change. Four years later, after making a name for himself overseas, the 6-5 forward returned to the NBA as a different man. He joined the Suns and was instantly given a chance to make an impact on his team -- he played in 79 games his first year back. But even if he hadn't got that opportunity, unlike his rookie year in Toronto, PJ wouldn't have sulked about it.

Today, after he's become an NBA champion and one of the league's best role players, Tucker is making sure he's giving young, immature rookies the same reality check the Raptors gave to him. "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."

Having an experienced vet on the team is the biggest luxury any rookie can have. Tucker didn't have that luxury, so he became the embodiment of one. And it paid off -- not only for him but everyone else around him. All thanks to one meeting with the Raptors during his rookie year.

Vanessa Bryant revealed how Kobe Bryant was like everyone else

Vanessa Bryant revealed how Kobe Bryant was a normal person like everyone else: "He wipes his own ass too"

Kobe Bryant was a superstar on the court but never acted like one outside of it. This is what endeared him to the fans

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, forward Kevin Durant and guard James Harden

“This has to go down as one of the most epic failures in the history of this league” — Tim Legler shreds the Brooklyn Nets

Two other teams in the modern NBA came to mind as faliures given the talent they had on the roster.

Kevin Durant blasts Philly fans for their chants towards Ben Simmons

Should the Brooklyn Nets regret trading for Kevin Durant?

The Durant-Irving partnership in Brooklyn could arguably go down as the most disappointing one in NBA history.

Detroit Pistons legend Rick Mahorn and Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller on who he hated facing on the bad boy Pistons — “He ​​had a crazy look in his eye all the time”

There’s a reason why Miller's most feared Pistons player was dubbed as the “Baddest Bad Boy of them all.”

San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan and guard Manu Ginobili

"I lost a lot of sleep because of him" — Chauncey Billups reveals who deserved to win the 2005 NBA Finals MVP

Tim Duncan won the 2005 NBA Finals MVP. But Chauncey Billups, as well as some fans, believed the trophy belonged to someone else.

Michael Jordan

Beer drones — the best feature on Michael Jordan's exclusive golf course

Do you want to be a member of the exclusive The Grove XXIII club? Michael Jordan has to invite you first.


Miles Bridges' wife exposes him for domestic violence

The NBA community needs to to better. ”I won’t be silent to protect others anymore because I value myself and my kids more than anyones ‘image’”