Even though he is now on the other side of the Eastern Conference fence, P.J. Tucker is, and will always be, thankful for the love and the golden indelible moments he had in his brief stint with the Milwaukee Bucks.
And now one day away from wearing the glimmering jewelry he earned with the world champions, the 36-year-old veteran took a rewind and expressed his adoration of the overwhelming Bucks faithful.
Speaking with Jim Owczarksi of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel before his much-anticipated return to Cream City on Friday, Tucker said he was shocked in receiving tons of touching messages from the fans — knowing that he is now giving service to another ball club.
“Hey, listen – you know what surprised me the most is how many fans are reaching out on e-mail, DM, everything, comments, talking about coming to the game,” Tucker said. “It’s really … that part was the part that made me think back and really think about it even before I talked to you. Because you can’t, like, you can’t make that up. Guys go play for teams and win and people don’t care. People could care less. And I know that for a fact.
“For the love I still get, even though I’m on an opposite team who their guys will battle this year and to still get that love, that’s what I’m saying about my experience in Milwaukee that nobody will ever understand: As short as it was, it couldn’t have been any bigger.”
P.J. is touted for his grit and fiery attitude when game time hits, but he certainly won’t deny the receptions he gained and is soon to gain as heartwarming in feeling — an unexpected thought on his part knowing that he only lasted for about 125 days donning the green uniform.
“I’ll always love Milwaukee,” he said. “I’ll love the people of Milwaukee forever. They embraced me so much from day one when I first got there to the day I left, they were always there, they always had my back. That’s not something you get right away. You don’t normally get the trust and the love of the city so fast. It was an amazing experience and journey.”
The pride of North Carolina further reminisced the unforgettable embrace that the natives offered him, which has left a long-lasting impression and thinking that indeed, Milwaukee is home of lovable people.
“For people to see how good of a fan base it is up there, I had no idea. Going there for years playing, I had no idea it would be that crazy.
“But just to see people come out every single day. Literally I mean couldn’t go anywhere. You couldn’t buy a beer. You couldn’t buy a dinner. People were just always taking care of you and love you. Going to my favorite place, Steny’s to get chicken wings, like that just turned into a whole deal because then people found out that was my spot so they would be there. There was people everywhere. But the love, the love that resonated and shined through more than anything.”
But now, as an imposing opponent and a crucial part of the Miami Heat, recognized as the mere rivals of the Bucks, Tucker remains wondering what he would upon stepping into the hardwood of the Fiserv Forum — four months since he was immortalized with the team as part of the NBA’s history books.
“I’m going to try my hardest. You’re making it hard because doing this right now is making me think about it. I’m trying to not think about it at all. It’s one of those things that’s just gotta happen and I’m going to take it in in that moment. I don’t know how I’ll react. I don’t know how because I have no idea. It seems almost unfair for me to have to, a month, two months in the season have to go back to Milwaukee and celebrate while Milwaukee being my No. 1 opponent and one of the teams that we need to beat on my team, my current team. It’s bittersweet. There’s no other way to get around that. It is what it is. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m just going to have to live it.”
Tucker was the competitive engine that boosted Milwaukee in the 2021 playoffs — raising the standards of intensity and mental toughness within with that “We Dogs!” mentality all throughout 23 hard-fought games. He was the undisputed x-factor of Milwaukee’s magical run en route to the basketball summit — guarding the opposing team’s best player with his hard-nosed, grinding defensive approach.
A mixed feeling knowing that it will be a wild comeback, but there is only one thing factual: Tucker is an undisputed Bucks fan-favorite and icon. He is forever cemented in hearts and minds of a place that will always show appreciation on his out of the box score contributions.