PJ Tucker compares his role on Rockets to Team USA
Houston Rockets forward PJ Tucker compared the role he had playing for Team USA with the one he has for his NBA team — a similar proposition given that not much has changed in his style of play:
“It’s the same and it’s different,” said Tucker, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “I think it’s the same in the fact that I still do the things that I do. You know being one of the older guys here and being the only guy that has really played in Europe and knows what’s going to happen.
“I feel that burden to kind of enlighten my young guys, let them know how it’s gonna be and let them know that we gotta jell together because all the guys that we are gonna play have been playing together all their lives, so you know we gotta come together really fast, really quick. A lot of these guys are teammates and friends, they know each other forever, so you know it’s happening pretty fast.”
While his teammates James Harden and Eric Gordon turned down an invitation to compete in this summer’s Team USA activities, Tucker jumped at the opportunity:
“Well when we asked him to come, he jumped on it,” said head coach Gregg Popovich. “That’s the first thing I remember. He really wanted to do it. He’s somebody who wanted it because he’s a competitor. He’s a grown man. He’s a little bit older, and he’s got a toughness about him. He’s a real pro. We have such a young team, bringing him into the fold and seeing how that works seemed to be right thing to do. He’s been wonderful.”
Tucker has embraced his two weeks with the national team, proud of what they’ve accomplished in such a short period of time and what they can still improve on before Aug. 31, when the real test will start:
“Honestly every day has been a highlight, man,” he said. “It’s just been a lot of good work. A lot of young pros here — guys who came out working to get better, and working to get better together. So honestly every day has been great, man, we’ve just been working hard to getting better, getting better together.”
Unfortunately, Tucker will not be a part of the action, as an ankle injury has forced him out for the remainder of the summer.