National Post (National Edition)

Tucker a great Finals story

Jack-of-all-trades player for NBA's Bucks


When the NBA Finals began, a popular narrative was what it would mean for 16-year vet Chris Paul to perhaps finally get the title his game has always seemed destined to help produce.

And while that narrative may yet play out, the more likely conclusion to that story — with the series now sitting 3-2 in Milwaukee's favour and shifting back to Wisconsin for Game 6 — seems headed in a different direction.

But there's another good story that's similar to Paul reaching the pinnacle at the tail end of his career, should the Bucks wind up carrying home the Larry O'Brien Trophy this year. It's 36-year-old Bucks jack-of-all-trades P.J. Tucker.

Tucker's story has multiple ties to the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors selected Tucker in the second round of the 2006 draft (35th overall), but the fan base never really got a chance to know him. Tucker was shipped out to the Raptors then D-League affiliate in Colorado soon after his arrival. He made it back to Toronto temporaril­y, but only wound up playing a grand total of 83 minutes before the team waived him for the now forgettabl­e Luke Jackson.

But that turned out to be just the start of a 15-year journey that has taken Tucker to the place he is today, just a game shy of winning an NBA Finals.

Along the way there would be stops over 5½ years that would see him play in Israel, Ukraine, Greece, Italy and Germany in addition to a stint in Puerto Rico. When he returned to the NBA with the Phoenix Suns in 2012, Tucker had developed that all-around game and a maturity that allowed him to focus on his strengths.

Another stint with Toronto in the latter half of 2017 was his first gun-for-hire scenario where the Raptors felt they were on the verge of title contention and Tucker would help them get past that always-there hurdle in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Unfortunat­ely, James had other ideas and a late season injury to Raptors guard Kyle Lowry messed those plans up so for the second time in his career, Tucker's stay in Toronto was a short one.

Next up were the Houston Rockets, another team seemingly knocking on the door of a championsh­ip, but that didn't go as planned either.

The Bucks are actually Tucker's third stop late in his well-travelled career in which he has been brought in to help put a team on the verge of NBA greatness over the top. And make no mistake, Tucker has changed this Bucks team and made them a tougher team to play against and is at least a part of the reason Milwaukee is on the cusp of a championsh­ip.

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