Kevin Durant and PJ Tucker go way back. Tucker left the Texas Longhorns to start his professional basketball career one year before Durant arrived at the program as a freshman phenom. KD immediately became a superstar upon joining the NBA, while Tucker had to grind for years just to get an opportunity. After stints in Israel, Ukraine, Greece, Italy, and Germany, Tucker found a spot with a Phoenix Suns ahead of the 2012-2013 season. His career really took off with the Houston Rockets a few years later.
Tucker and Durant faced off in an instant classic 2018 Western Conference Finals matchup between the Warriors and Rockets. Tucker averaged 39 minutes per game that series as he often took on the impossible assignment of guarding Durant. The Warriors would famously advance by taking Game 7 and go on to win an NBA championship, with KD being named Finals MVP. If anyone knows what it’s like to go up against a superteam led by Durant — one of the great players in league history — it’s Tucker.
Tucker has found himself in a similar situation this year as his Milwaukee Bucks take on Durant’s Brooklyn Nets. Down 2-0 in the series coming into Game 3, the Bucks found a way to win an ugly, low-scoring game, 86-83, to fight their way back into the series. During a tense moment late in the third quarter, Durant and Tucker got face-to-face and started jawing.
Tucker was called for a foul, and started complaining about it. Durant began talking trash, Tucker got in his face, and what could be considered a light skirmish broke out. All of this is pretty unremarkable for an intense playoff game, at least until a security guard ran onto the court and broke up the hubbub.
Fans watching the game were immensely confused as to why a security guard was running onto the floor. Now we have an answer.
According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the man who ran onto the floor is Durant’s personal bodyguard, who is apparently on the Nets’ payroll:
At one point, with less than five minutes left in the third quarter, Durant and P.J. Tucker were nose to nose, speaking heatedly, as though they were upset. Durant’s personal bodyguard, who is on the Nets’ payroll, charged the court to break them up, and shoved Tucker. The Bucks’ crowd, at full capacity for the first time this season, serenaded Kevin with “f— KD” chants.
As anyone who watched “The Last Dance” knows, NBA superstars employ security guards because they need them as much as any other ultra-famous person. It is just a little bizarre to see that security guard run onto the floor to break up what was mostly an ordinary confrontation given the stakes of the situation.
Nets-Bucks Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee. It’s another must-win game for the Bucks. We already know it’s going to be a charged atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if Tucker and KD get into it again.