It’s well known that Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker is the “Sneaker King” of the NBA. Could that status and reputation land him his own signature shoe?
When the Houston Rockets make their arrival at each arena, the fashion show begins. There’s always the curiosity of what Russell Westbrook will wear and what James Harden will look like when he makes his appearance for the camera. But there’s also the question of which shoes P.J. Tucker will be carrying with him into the arena, which he’s also created the tradition of doing.
Tucker is known around the NBA as the “Sneaker King”, as he’s always wearing custom colorways of signature shoes from other players, ranging from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Durant to even current Western Conference rival LeBron James. At this point, should P.J. Tucker have his own signature shoe as well?
Tucker has been signed to Nike for much of his NBA career, and his contract ended with them in October. But Nike has made it a priority to keep Tucker, as Jabari Young of CNBC reports Nike is nearing an agreement on a new deal with the Houston Rockets’ defensive ace.
Nike faced stiff competition from New Balance, who just inked a deal with 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and San Antonio Spurs up-and-comer Dejounte Murray. Murray inked a multi-million dollar deal with New Balance, so you’d have to think they surely would have ponied up the cash for Tucker.
Nike also faced competition from Puma for Tucker’s services, who are also having a revival of their own after landing DeMarcus Cousins, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Ayton and Danny Green. Puma recently signed Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma to a four-year deal worth $20 million, so they’re willing to sign the dotted line as well if it means landing someone they deem to be worthy.
Surely Puma would have loved to add Tucker to their arsenal, and quite possibly would have even given him his own signature shoe. Lastly, Adidas was also one of Tucker’s suitors, which makes sense as they’ve also got Houston Rockets superstar James Harden signed to their brand as well.
But Tucker has decided to remain with Nike on what’s expected to be a multi-year, six-figure deal which will be the highest paying endorsement deal of his career. Tucker recently went into detail with CNBC about part of the reason he’s endeared himself to Nike: “They’re selling products, so they want you to wear certain things…But for me, they let me wear anything I want. Everybody can’t do that, especially if you’re under contract.”
Sure, this would be appealing to the Houston Rockets corner 3-point specialist, as he likes having the ability to wear any of Nike’s shoes in their massive shoe collection, but should Nike up the ante? Considering the fact that Tucker surely could have yielded more money with other notable brands such as New Balance and Puma (as evidenced by Murray and Kuzma’s contracts) yet he chose to stay with Nike, they would be wise to reward him with his own signature shoe.
He’s been signed with Nike for much of career already and publicly markets their exclusive shoe colorways, which surely bring them even more revenue. Not to mention the fact that Tucker is constantly on the national stage, as the Houston Rockets have the third most nationally-televised games during the 2019-20 season, which also shines even more light on Tucker in Nike’s brand.
Considering how Nike made re-signing Tucker such a priority yet reportedly aren’t paying him the amount of money Kuzma is getting from Puma, you’d hope there’s a sweetener that Nike threw in that made it easier for Tucker to agree to less money. For their part, Nike has previously given Tucker his own player exclusive shoe, which was an exclusive Hyperdunk X Lows with the “PJ17” logo stitched onto the sneaker.
13 seasons later, PJ Tucker finally gets his first PEs from Nike Basketball: Hyperdunk X Lows. pic.twitter.com/97qtaB3zQ0
— SoleCollector.com (@SoleCollector) December 5, 2018
But this is not the same thing as giving him his own signature shoe, which is something they should reward him with after so many years of being with the brand. Considering how Tucker loves wearing so many different shoes, it’s worth questioning if he would prefer to have his own shoe or continue to wear so many different other shoes.
Many basketball fans feel that Tucker doesn’t warrant having his own shoe, as he’s never been named to an All-Defensive team and also has never been a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year award, despite that being his bread and butter.
But if Lonzo Ball and Matthew Dellavedova can land their own signature shoe, Tucker should also. And for Nike’s sake, if they really value Tucker that much, it’s something they should be willing to do.