Kobe Bryant's tragic death in January shocked the basketball community across the globe, leading to a steady stream of tributes and remembrances in recent months. Rockets forward P.J. Tucker was able to do his part to honor Bryant last week.
Nike released its latest sneaker on Sept. 25 as the Tucker edition of the Nike Kobe 5 Protro officially hit the market. Tucker is known as the NBA's premier sneaker aficionado, and when it came time to design his own sneaker, 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 still here, even if just in spirit," Tucker wrote on Instagram. "Nah, this isn’t a sad post at all. Today, I’m smiling hard [because] one of my dreams became a reality, and I’m forever grateful for everything, big homie. Thank you."
Tucker appeared deeply affected by Bryant's death in January, noting "today's one of the toughest 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 a no-brainer. We had a chance to actually be there. One of the best memorials I’ve ever been to," Tucker said after attending the service. "It was super emotional for everybody in there. To see how strong his family was, to see literally everybody from all walks of his life being there, it was amazing."
Tucker's prime never coincided with Bryant's, though it's clear the five-time champion made quite an impression on Houston's forward. Bryant is tragically gone far too soon, but as Tucker's sneaker gesture illustrates, his impact on the game will last for decades to come. Don't expect the tributes to fade in 2020-21.