Rockets’ P.J. Tucker grew up wanting to be Larry Johnson
To be fair, at some point in any athlete’s life ever, they wanted to be a superstar. They’d mimic their shot, batting stance, throwing motion — whatever it was they’d copy it.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that the North Carolina-born P.J. Tucker wanted to be like former Charlotte Hornets star Larry Johnson.
“I had the part down the middle,” the Raleigh, N.C., native said. “I had the get-up, I wore his shoes. You see early pictures of me when I was a kid, I really thought I was Larry Johnson. It was funny. Like, that was like my thing.” At the University of Texas, Tucker wore No. 2 because of Johnson. Converse commercials from the early nineties featuring Johnson as “Grandmama” in a flowery blue dress still give him chills.
In defense of P.J. Tucker, those Grandmama shoes were awesome. He also picked a fantastic player to emulate.
Larry Johnson was an undersized forward (6-6), just like Tucker (6-5). He was also utterly dominant for the first few years of his career before injuries sadly ended it prematurely.
In his rookie season though, Johnson averaged 19.2 points and 11 rebounds per game. He followed that up by averaging 22.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in his sophomore campaign.
Despite his size, he was a tenacious rebounder. The same could be said about Tucker. Although he doesn’t rip down nearly as many boards as Johnson did in his prime, the Rockets forward can certainly bang down low.
Once again, that means this shouldn’t come as a surprise either. Tucker’s other favorite player was Charles Barkley, the Round Mound of Rebound.
It’s easy to respect the work Tucker has put in to get where he is today. Despite being a second round pick and spending most of his rookie year in the D League, he never gave up on his dream and has proven himself to be a solid NBA player. You’d have to think having role models like Larry Johnson and Charles Barkley only helped.
Now, P.J. Tucker’s missing just a ridiculously fantastic nickname. Both his heroes had one — it’s time for Tucker to follow suit.