Plugged In

Raleigh native PJ Tucker was back home in North Carolina for an early-March matchup between the Suns and Hornets last year, awaiting a pair of Marvin Williams free throws, when he heard a familiar, raspy voice.

“Hey Tuck, where in the hell did you get those?”

It was Michael Jordan, shouting at him from the corner seat on the Hornets bench.

His Airness was pointing to a pair of white, purple and orange Air Jordan Vs on Tucker’s feet—kicks created exclusively for Shawn Marion in 2001.

“I couldn’t do anything but laugh,” Tucker says. “I actually had a pair of Jordan shoes that Jordan didn’t have.”

Equipped with kicks like those, plus a stash of rare exclusives from the likes of Michael Finley, Josh Howard and Eddie Jones, Tucker has become the undisputed king of wearing the most intriguing and hard-to-find sneakers on the NBA hardwood. Indeed, his footwear choices have earned him celebrity status on sneaker blogs. And PJ credits his findings to three consignment shops that he’s developed great relationships with over the years: P4P Shoes in Phoenix, RIF LA in Los Angeles and Index in Portland.

“Whenever we play the teams in those cities, I always stop by and kick it with those guys,” Tucker says. “They look out for me and give me first dibs with stuff you just can’t find on the Internet, and we always bounce ideas off of each other in regards to what I’ll wear next.”

Tucker says he stops by P4P Shoes—his biggest supplier—at least once a week (it’s where he copped those Matrix PEs MJ hollered about).

But there’s one valued shoe he unexpectedly received that even his consignment shop plugs couldn’t have helped with.

Last summer, Tucker had lunch with former NBA player and teammate Fred Jones, whom he refers to as his “vet.” Jones was a Jordan Brand athlete and four-year pro by the time Tucker entered the League, so he took PJ under his wing during their lone year together in Toronto. He also happens to have a massive collection of rare Air.

“I would ask him for a pair every time I went to his house, but he never bit,” Tucker recalled.

Finally, Jones relented, gifting Tucker an uber-limited black and orange Air Jordan VIII exclusive that was created for affiliates of Fat Joe’s Terror Squad years ago.

“I’ve been fortunate to obtain some great kicks just by meeting people and sparking up conversations in person or on social media,” says Tucker. “Relationships matter in the sneaker culture.”

Originally published in KICKS 19—on sale now!

Photos via Getty Images