Sixers Starter Unleashes ‘Tough’ Lesson on New Teammates

PJ Tucker

Getty Sixers starter P.J. Tucker poses for the cameras during Media Day on September 26, 2022.

Toughness has been the theme of the offseason for the Philadelphia 76ers. No mental midgets or weak-minded individuals. Their tweaked roster was built on grind and hustle and constructed out of mettle.

The poster boy for that raw new attitude is P.J. Tucker, the one-time champion and all-world tough guy. The veteran forward tormented the Sixers in last year’s playoffs and now he’s starting next to Tobias Harris in their starting five. What a turn of events. What a coup.

And the seed was actually planted two off-seasons ago when James Harden had first entertained the idea of joining Philadelphia. They were aiming to be teammates there in 2021. One year later, after a pitstop in Miami, it happened.

“Me and James were trying to come together the year before so I kind of already knew the vibe,” Tucker said of why he chose Philly. “The makeup of the team, having a lot of people I already knew, it just made sense. It just made sense, honestly.

“When you’re a free agent you gotta look at it all, especially being a vet, I couldn’t imagine playing for a team not fighting for a championship anymore. Being in a situation where it feels like you can’t win. I couldn’t do that. So, picking the best situation for me and checking all the boxes, it just checked all the boxes.”

Tucker Shared His Definition for Toughness

Defining toughness is no easy chore. The word can mean different things to different people, plus misrepresenting toughness could shrink your manhood. That’s a pride thing. A real, tangible thing.

So, when Tucker was asked for his definition of toughness, he brought it back to the basics. Things like playing through pain, not backing down, and respecting your teammates; basically, doing your job.

“I don’t think I could give you an exact answer of what it is,” Tucker said. “I think it’s different for everybody. I think people see somebody make a mean face and they’re yelling, and they think they’re tough but that’s not toughness. Like I said, it’s being accountable, reliable, not backing down … every night different assignments it doesn’t matter. Being available, you know … not being hurt, being able to go out there and compete.”

Was the part about “making a mean face” about Tyler Herro’s famed mean mug? Probably not. Tucker’s point was likely more a shot at anyone who cries wolf and then backs down. Or someone who is “fake tough.” Or maybe everyone is reading way too much into everything.

Either way, Tucker is tough. The toughest. 

“There are so many different facets that go into it,” Tucker said. “But, for me, the biggest toughness is the mental toughness. To be able to play an NBA season, play all games, most games, and be in the playoffs, like that consistency. I think that’s the biggest thing about being tough.”

Injury Update on Arthroscopic Knee Procedure

The Sixers alerted reporters that Tucker had undergone a scope on his left knee in the offseason. He’s fine and won’t miss any time following a “10-minute procedure,” according to president Daryl Morey. It was completed six weeks ago.

“I’m doing great. Timewise it made sense, get it knocked out,” Tucker said. “It’s been six weeks, so I’m fully cleared and back on the court and doing everything so I’m excited.”

That means Tucker will be on the court for the first day of training camp on September 27. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s the epitome of toughness, the poster boy, right? Whatever that means.

“I don’t know what that is,” Tucker said. “I just play. Players play.”

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