After a breakout season, P.J. Tucker signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract with the Phoenix Suns.
It seemed like a feel-good story for a second-round pick who spent five seasons playing overseas before breaking into Phoenix’s lineup.
But Tucker loses a lot of goodwill with this report.
Tucker’s blood alcohol content registered at .201 on a preliminary breath test in the field on May 10, according to Scottsdale police. A driver is considered legally drunk for a DUI charge in Arizona at .08 blood-alcohol content. A blood test administered after Tucker was taken to jail and later analyzed by Arizona DPS showed his blood alcohol-content to be .222, according to the police report. A super extreme DUI is .20 or more.
A Scottsdale police officer reported spotting Tucker, 29, driving his 2011 Mercedes-Benz slowly through a stop sign at North Buckboard Trail and East Camelback Road, near a popular downtown Scottsdale nightlife area. According to the report, the vehicle ran that stop sign northbound at about 12:30 a.m., turned wide left into the right lane on westbound Camelback and turned wide again while straddling two lanes on northbound Scottsdale Road before the officer pulled the vehicle over.
Tucker had “thick and slurred” speech and “watery and bloodshot” eyes, according to the report, and the officer detected a “powerful” alcohol odor as he interviewed Tucker. Tucker told the officer that he was coming from the W Scottsdale Hotel, where he had one beer. During a walk-and-turn test, Tucker stumbled to the side and caught himself on a construction fence, the report stated.
The Suns were aware of the charges before signing Tucker to his deal.
In no way do I condone anyone driving over a .08, but I can see someone teetering over that line and driving without realizing they’re intoxicated. That doesn’t excuse the transgression, but it changes the severity. Drivers should be responsible for ensuring they’re not drunk, but there’s a difference between accidentally falling over the line and showing absolutely no regard for it.
A .222 is inexcusable. If that reading is accurate, it shows Tucker deliberately put everyone in his path at risk.
He must answer for this, and he will in court. The Suns should also explain why they re-signed Tucker while they – and not the public – knew about this incident.
They weren’t necessarily wrong for rewarding Tucker with a large contract regardless. But they should explain their reasoning.