Tucker’s Heart, Hustle Invaluable to Suns

hus·tle / verb: Obtain by forceful action or persuasion.

self·less / adjective: Concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own; unselfish.

lead·er·ship / noun: The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

Tuck / noun: Hustle, personified.

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Ignore the numbers.

Forget, the seven double-doubles he tallied over his last 30 games (11 total on the season) while posting averages of 10.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.

Dismiss the fact that he became the first Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire to record a points/rebounds double-double with at least five steals.

Or that he’s led the Suns in rebounding and steals this season 22 times and 24 times respectively.

That’s because you don’t need quantifiable stats to know why P.J. Tucker was named the winner of the Dan Majerle Hustle Award for the second straight year.

All you need to do is watch him play.

“P.J.’s incredible work ethic has earned him the Majerle Hustle Award for the second year in a row,” said Ring of Honor member Dan Majerle. “It’s been exciting to watch him grow as a player and become a leader on this team. P.J. does the little things to help his team win, and that’s the epitome of what the Majerle Hustle Award represents.”

There are only a select group of players in the league who play with such heart and resilience, and Tucker is unquestionably one of them. His insatiable effort on the defensive end of the floor continues to inspire confidence, and his improvement offensively has made him a legitimate dual threat.

But it’s so much more than Tucker’s stellar play on the court that made him a back-to-back Majerle Hustle Award winner; it’s his team-first mentality and unmatched toughness – qualities that has led to universal respect for the Suns’ star.

Indeed, it’s something his coaches and teammates don’t take for granted.

“He’s been our leader,” Jeff Hornacek said. “We’ve really turned to him for his toughness and physicality all season long. P.J.’s a competitor – never takes a play off. For him, I think that’s the highest compliment he’d ever want – to be known as someone who works his tail off.”

Tucker embodies everything the award stands for, namely hustle and determination. In turn, by simply being himself, Tucker has become a primary leader for the Suns.

Perhaps more importantly, he is real-life evidence of what happens when hard work is coupled with an indelible belief in yourself.

“P.J. is our rock,” added Goran Dragic. “He always goes out and gives 100 percent every practice and every game. I think it’s been good for all of the guys to see how he prepares and how hard he works.

“He plays as hard as anyone I’ve been around.”