PHILADELPHIA–Philadelphia 76ers veteran PJ Tucker turned 38 years old on Friday which is usually an age where players begin to think about retirement.
However, Tucker is still going strong. He is not putting up big numbers, which has never been a big part of his long and successful career, but he still has his fingerprints all over games.
Tucker had nine points in the Game 3 loss to the Boston Celtics and he made a lot of winning plays. Obviously, the Sixers came up short, but Philadelphia relies on him for spacing and to make all of the little plays in order to have success.
“He really works to have an emotional impact on the game and a series and he’s really good at it,” acknowledged Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla. “He just has an innate ability to really change the spacing of a half-court possession whether it’s with his screening, whether it’s with his relocation, he just does a great job of manipulating possessions without the ball.”
That’s what’s special about Tucker. He doesn’t need the ball or put up big numbers in order to be effective.
“He’s a guy that you constantly have to pay attention to because of his ability to do that between that and his physicality and his mindset,” Mazzulla added. “It’s definitely something we’re aware of.”
Tucker hears the respect he receives from opponents, but he doesn’t take pride in stuff like that. He just wants to win and have a long career.
“I’m not proud in that manner,” Tucker said of the respect he received. “The only pride is seeing guys my age and seeing Bron (LeBron James) still go, seeing CP (Chris Paul) still go, being in the same high school class. Being the only guys left from our high school class, being the only guys left from our class, that’s more of a pride thing, but as far as day-to-day basketball, nah.”
When asked if the goal is to outlast the likes of James and Paul, the Sixers veteran laughed and pointed out one key goal he has when it comes to his future plans.
“No, I told Bron, I’m not stopping until you do,” he laughed. “He wanna play with Bronny so I’m like ‘Alright, well, we’re gonna figure it out because I’m not stopping until you do. There’s no way.”
A lot of players take pride in being able to play at this late stage of their careers, but Tuker is more focused on being able to still play and contribute at this age.
“Once you get up there, it’s like ‘Alright’, but at the same time, you still gotta be able to play,” Tucker said with a laugh again. “You can have pride all you want. If you can’t play no more, then it’s kinda pointless.”
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Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire