Rockets’ PJ Tucker living his dream guarding Warriors’ Kevin Durant
It wasn’t too long ago that Houston Rockets PJ Tucker gambled on himself to make it back to the NBA. The longtime journeyman turned down a beefier contract in Russia for a chance to be the 15th man for the Phoenix Suns seven years ago, soon drawing his first start guarding no other than Kevin Durant.
Fast forward to the present, and the North Carolina native is right back to where he started, proving himself against the game’s best, though in different uniforms.
“I got the utmost respect for Kevin,” Tucker said of Durant, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “I take pride in it. This is something I want to do. I can’t wait to guard Kevin Durant. Nobody wants to guard Kevin Durant. I respect [Los Angeles Clippers guard] Pat [Beverley] for stepping up and saying, ‘I got him’ [in the first round]. Nobody wants to do that.”
Tucker, much like Beverley, has embraced the dirt-on-your-teeth, grind-out style of defensive play — one he relishes despite Durant effortlessly dropping 46 points on his Rockets in Game 3 of the series — a task worthwhile, as it nets the Rockets a much-needed home win.
However, Tucker doesn’t wish for a role reversal, even if he is at times the unsung hero of the game.
“Everybody dreams about scoring 30, getting the game-winner. No, no, no, not me,” said Tucker. “I love my role. I love what I do. … It sounds crazy, but this is my dream. I’m living my dream right now guarding Kevin Durant in the NBA playoffs.”
Tucker has gone from NBA journeyman to a hot commodity, forging himself as a three-and-D specialist and one that has found a home in Houston, where his services are imperative to their collective success.
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