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SHOE GRIT

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PJ TUCKER HOUSTON'S FASHIONABLE FORWARD ISN'T AFRAID TO GET A LITTLE DIRTY

SI: The Rockets went to the Bahamas before training camp. Gotta ask: Does Carmelo ever take the hoodie off?

PJT: Never. He FaceTimed me today in another hoodie. Like, I wear hoodies a lot. But I've never seen somebody wear a hoodie that often. The man has so many hoodies.

SI: After all those years in Phoenix, you're living the life of a contender in Houston. How different has it been?

PJT: It's like being in two separate leagues. It makes you fall in love with basketball again. I had a lot of fun in Phoenix. Those guys, they're still some of my best friends. But we weren't playing for anything.

SI: You're 85 on SI's list of the Top 100 NBA players. Do you ever pay attention to those rankings?

PJT: No. Some guys care about that crap. But man, they could have me dead last. It doesn't change how many wins you're gonna get, what you mean to your team. I'm sure somebody on Golden State isn't even on the list, but he's got a lot of rings.

SI: Do you feel like you've gotten more recognition lately? You're often near the top of the list when people talk about the best role players.

PJT: That just comes with winning. I've always felt like I was a guy that understood my role. I thrive because I love it. You have your stars, your bigs, all the pieces.... But me, [my role is doing] the things that win games—those extra possessions, the hustle plays, the dirty work. That's stuff that can push teams over the top.

SI: When you get to Houston, do they sit you down and have a conversation about shooting threes? Is there any kind of initiation?

PJT:[Laughs.] It's special, man. We get up 60 threes, [coach Mike D'Antoni] will be like, "Why didn't you get 70?" When you get to Houston, that's the first thing he tells you: "If you're open, shoot." It's a real short conversation.

SI: The NBA changed the shoe rules: Players can wear any colorways they want. What do you think about that?

PJT: Those [rules] never really applied to me. I've always worn whatever and kinda pushed the envelope. I've never really cared [what the league thinks]. So, I mean, I appreciate being able to do it without having to hear anything. But that to me is like an announcement for everybody else.

SI: You're one of the more fashionable players in the NBA, and you were in Milan and Paris with James Harden this summer. Between the two of you, who's winning a fashion battle?

PJT:[Laughs.] We're one and the same. We both like to have fun with our fashion. I'd say we're the same.

SI: O.K., what about Daryl Morey versus Mike D'Antoni?

PJT: Now that's more of a battle! They both.... Man, neither one of them cares at all. Both of them would probably try to let the other one win.