Kicks king: Rockets’ Tucker to open sneaker store

Rockets center P.J. Tucker, known for his longtime love of limited edition sneakers almost as much as for his 3-and-D role with Houston, will be opening his own sneaker boutique later this year.

Tucker made the announcement Saturday during an Instagram Live Q&A with Nice Kicks.

“We’re looking to do the grand opening in October,” Tucker said. “We’ve got a lot of dope collabs coming. We’re going to have some fun with it, and I’m excited about that.”

Former NBA players such as Bobby Simmons, Derrick Williams, Derek Anderson and others have opened shoe stores in the past. Since 2011, LeBron James has been a co-owner of the Miami-based UNKNWN boutique, which opened during his first championship season with the Heat.

Tucker is looking to bring new perspective to the city where he has felt most at home in the NBA. Although the shop’s physical location hasn’t been revealed, a dormant @TheBetterGeneration Instagram account has already been created.

“The shoe culture in Houston is cool,” he said. “There’s a lot of sneakerheads and a lot of people that love shoes here — a lot more than I thought … I just think there should be more activity.”

Now playing in his ninth NBA season, Tucker has worn Nike throughout his career. Toward the end of his five-year stretch with the Phoenix Suns, he began making a name for himself by rotating through a variety of exclusive and rare sneakers, often worth thousands of dollars per pair.

“That was a part of my dream, just as much as making it to the league,” he said. “I wanted to be in the league and with Nike.”

Once the league loosened its color restrictions in 2018, Tucker’s profile went from a cult following among sneaker collectors to the mainstream recognition he’s now enjoying. The explosion of social media and the heightened visibility of players’ arena entry outfits only added to Tucker’s opportunity to show off his multi-thousand-pair sneaker collection on a nightly basis, on and off the court.

This past fall, with Tucker’s prior Nike shoe deal set to expire, he met with other brands before re-signing with Nike. His new deal includes a variety of exclusive, custom colorways of Nike’s latest sneakers and custom editions of models from Kobe Bryant’s sneaker line, some of which might be released down the road at the upcoming “Better Generation” store. In addition to footwear collaborations and limited edition launches, the store is expected to release a variety of apparel capsules.

Tucker stresses his love for “variety” at all times.

“I’ve never wanted my own [signature] shoe,” he said. “Even when I was a free agent and trying to sign with companies, when they were trying to sell me to get my own shoe, I was like, ‘I don’t want to do that.’ I’ve never wanted to be locked in on one shoe.”

With the NBA season currently suspended and a return date still uncertain, Tucker says he’s focused on staying ready for the eventual conclusion of the 2019-20 season while mapping out his grand plans for his “Better Generation” shop.

“From the beginning of time, all I’ve ever done is hoop, and this culture of sneakers has always been a part of it,” he said. “It’s hand-in-hand.”

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