SNEAKERS

Inside PJ Tucker’s “Out Tha Mud” Converse Pro Leather Collab

Highlighting his globetrotting path to the heights of the NBA, the league’s foremost sneakerhead has a new Converse shoe that celebrates how he got it “Out Tha Mud.”

After landing a multi-year extension with Nike in 2019, PJ Tucker had one thing on his mind:

Creativity.

From player exclusive colorways of his favorite pairs to his own limited edition retail sneaker releases, he was looking forward to giving his input into the design process for the first time.

“That was like one of those life goal type of situations,” the Miami Heat forward told Boardroom. “To be able to make your own PEs, I could never explain that to somebody.”

When Tucker first got tapped over a year ago to work on his very own silhouette with the century-old brand that falls under the Nike Inc. umbrella, the well-versed fan of Converse had an immediate pick.

“When you pick a Converse, Pro Leather is like the first one that comes to mind,” he explains. “It’s up there with the iconic models, with the Air Force 1, with the Ship. For me, I think the Pro Leather is right there.”

On the court over the last year, he was busy telling his life story in chapter form with his Kobe 6 “Journey Pack” throughout the 2021 Playoffs. Pair by pair, he highlighted each step in his journey, with colorful themes tying back to cities and teams all over the world that made up his basketball odyssey to becoming an NBA champion.

For his Pro Leather collab off the court, he took a different approach.

“I knew I wanted to be really clean and simple,” added Tucker. “The original thought was like the OG ’85 Jordan 1, that Neutral Grey. That was like my baseline.”

White leather makes up the bulk of the upper, while rich light grey suedes take on the eyestay, heel and Chevron logo along the midfoot. A crackled collar leather texture and the pre-yellowed midsole tie back to the rough and rugged approach that’s embodied his workmanlike mentality.

“I wanted that grisly, dirty old bottom, that will continuously get better with time, once you give some wear to the shoe,” he describes.

Subtle hits of Carolina blue and burnt orange along the tongue labels round things out, calling back to his roots growing up in Raleigh and his collegiate days at the University of Texas.

After first releasing at a pop-up event in Miami in tandem with his co-owned sneaker boutique The Better Generation, Tucker’s Pro Leathers will be featured as the newest launch in Converse’s “Chase The Drip” pack on both Converse.com and FootLocker.com on Friday, January 28th.

Tucker joins fellow NBA tastemakers Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kelly Oubre Jr. in crafting his own Converse concept for a retail release.

“You kinda get the different vibe from each guy and what they’re on, and just their thoughts and emotions at the time and what they’re thinking,” he said of the series. “You can see it in the shoe – guys’ personalities and how they are.” 

While Shai opted for his “SGA” initials in gold foil along the Pro Leather’s usual midfoot lettering real estate, Tucker stuck with the “Out Tha Mud” motto acronym that’s defined his life story.

“It represents me, man,” he reflects. “I don’t think that there’s any quote or saying that represents me more than that. At every level, I had to kinda get it out the mud.”

The “Journey Pack” themes bounced from Raleigh to Austin, Toronto to Israel, Ukraine to Greece, to Germany and back stateside. For Tucker, this shoe encapsulates that entire journey at once.

“From the beginning, I’ve always been an undersized guy and got counted out,” he continued. “They never thought I would be here. Not even in college, not even in high school. I would always have to defy the odds at every stage. For me, there’s no other way I’d want it. Just getting it ‘out tha mud,’ being the guy that everyone counted out, but always being able to finish on top.” 

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