Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in January shocked the basketball community across the globe, resulting in a steady stream of tributes and memories in recent months. Rockets forward PJ Tucker was able to do his part to honor Bryant last week.
Nike released its latest sneaker on September 25 as the Tucker edition of the Nike Kobe 5 Pro officially launched on the market. Tucker is known as the NBA’s first sneaker enthusiast, and when it came time to design his own sneakers, Tucker knew exactly who to honor.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you, man. Wearing your shoes always makes me feel like you’re always there, even if it’s only in spirit.” Tucker wrote on Instagram. “No, it’s not a sad article at all. Today I smile loudly [because] one of my dreams has come true, and I am eternally grateful for everything, big one. Thank you.”
Tucker appeared deeply affected by Bryant’s death in January, noting “today one of the most difficult days of my life”, shortly after Bryant’s death. He flew to Los Angeles for Bryant’s memorial service in February, joining Russell Westbrook and James Harden to honor one of the greatest players in league history.
“It meant everything. For me it was obvious. We were lucky to be there. One of the best memorials I have ever attended,” Tucker said after attending the service. âIt was super emotional for everyone there. To see how strong his family was, to see literally everyone from all walks of life being there, it was amazing.â
Tucker’s bounty never coincided with Bryant’s, although it’s clear the five-time champion made a big impression on the Houston forward. Bryant tragically left far too early, but as Tucker’s sneaker gesture illustrates, his impact on the game will last for decades. Don’t expect the tributes to fade in 2020-21.