Tucker knew that going negative would never take him anywhere.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

A lot of professional athletes catch a bad rap for not appreciating where they came from and what they’re doing. Those athletes aren’t Alando Tucker. Despite all the excuses in the world to turn negative while growing up, Tucker refrained. Now after not having the option his contract picked up by the Suns and receiving very little playing time, the former Big Ten Player of the Year still remains positive that brighter days lie ahead in his latest blog.

At the end of last season I talked with (Coach) Alvin (Gentry) and (Suns GM) Steve (Kerr) and they were real positive with everything. They were talking about the different things I needed to work on. So I went home to the Chicago area after spending most of the summer in Phoenix the previous summer.

I did a lot of work and I think I overexerted myself the previous summer. I put a lot of pressure on myself while I was working out and I think that played a part in me getting an injury.

This past summer, I just wanted to get back home so I could get a release and because there’s a lot of good full-court runs in Chicago. The summer before, I did a lot of workouts but I couldn’t get any full-court run.

I actually liked the training this past summer more than the year before. There’s a lot of great talent that comes through Chicago and a lot of great trainers there too. I played with Shannon Brown, Dee Brown, Will Bynum, Luther Head, Corey Maggette, Devin Harris, Roger Powell Jr. and Quentin Richardson. Shawn Marion played a couple of times.

Coming into training camp, my whole mentality was to put a lot of work in and give myself a chance to get on the court. I went to summer league just to get some work in with the guys although they already knew what I could do.

I felt good and I thought I had a pretty good training camp. I always try to stay positive, keep working and keep myself ready for getting on the court.

Before coming to Phoenix, I’ve always played. This is the first time in my life I’ve been in this situation. Sometimes I get down.

Like any competitor, you want to play. It’s especially hard with this team because we don’t practice as much because we have so many veterans.

I worked so hard to convert over to just playing the 2-position strictly, but Alvin and Steve knew how tough it was for me coming back from injury and trying to regain the confidence that I had before the injury. They also know how hard it is to never know when you’re going to get into the game as opposed to consistently knowing that you’re going to get in. When you know what time of the game you are going to get in, you can prepare yourself mentally for it.

Before I came here I was always impatient. I wanted everything to come right now.

I felt as if I worked hard I would earn my spot instantly. I felt that I’d just out-work somebody to get on the court. That been pretty much my MO my whole life, but it just works a little differently here because it’s a business.

That’s one thing I had to learn so I built patience, became calm and didn’t let this situation discourage me. We have such a good team with top-notch classy guys like Steve (Nash) and Grant (Hill) that just watching them helps me so much.

I’m able to talk to Grant about my situation and he understands how tough it is. Grant and Steve offer a lot of advice and tell me to keep my head up because they know I can play in this league.

Steve talked to me about how he wasn’t playing that much his first few years and how he went on to win MVPs in his 30s. He said that when he was in my position he stayed on top of his game, so that’s one of the things I do now.

Instead of getting down on myself, I’d rather go into the gym and put some work in. I can control everything that I do, I can’t control the outcome of me getting on the court playing, but I can control me being ready when the time comes.

I’m the type of player that loves to play and feels like I need to play in order to feel like I’m getting better. When I don’t, I feel like I’m losing an edge to my game. That’s the toughest part.

Even in my rookie year I was able to go down to the D-League and was able to play. I went down there and did really good and I was able to keep my confidence up. I think now I have to find different ways to challenge myself physically and mentally. Me and Grant challenge each other by seeing who will be first in the weight room or who will get the most lifts in during the month and the year.

I push him and he pushes me. I try to lead the team in weight-lifts per month. I also work out and shoot after every game.

I was kind of naïve when I came into the league and thought that if I outwork somebody I’ll get out on the court. But it’s a business and I have to take account money situations.

I have to understand that I’m a business, I’m a brand so I have to look at every aspect and every factor of why I’m not playing and why I haven’t gotten to the point I want and need to be. But when my time comes I have to be ready.

If I do get a chance and I’m not ready the coaching staff can say, ‘well I gave you this chance, I gave you the opportunity and you weren’t ready.’ That’s the type of league this is.

At times, earlier in this season, I think there was a point where I really got down on myself. At the beginning of the season and in training camp, when I wasn’t playing very much, I got down on myself and was kind of feeling sorry for myself.

That was something that I’ve never done in my life and I was questioning whether I should be in this league. But I worked my way out of it and after going to the gym every day, I realized that I do belong here and that it’s all about situation and opportunity.

I’ve always took it upon myself to work things out. It’s like the pact I made with myself and then having to live up to it. I have learned to count on myself and take the challenge of getting through some things.

But I definitely was taking advice from all the guys and the coaches. (Assistant coach) Igor (Kokoskov) talks to me about what kind of player I am and (assistant coaches) Bill Cartwright and John Shumate have also been helpful in the process.

Although Grant and Steve have talked to me a lot about things, LB is the person I talk to the most about the on–the-court and off-the-court stuff. I probably spend most of my time with Leandro.

Unfortunately, last year I felt like I was about to break out and then my injury played a big part in me taking a step back. I spent all of last year trying to recover.

You quickly forget all of the accolades that you won in college because people are focused on the present. I think for most fans, they don’t understand the business of basketball.

They just see who is on the court and who’s not playing and a lot of people question me and think that I don’t work as hard because they don’t see me. They don’t know how many hours I put in the gym and in the weight room to try to stay ready.

The situation we have here is that we have a lot of guys with roles already so it makes it tough for a guy like me. You have J-Rich, who’s a starter and a big name in this league, who’s playing a lot of minutes and then you have LB, who’s been here for six or seven years and won Sixth Man of the Year Award. It’s tough for a young player for me to come into the league and try to break out with them in front of me.

It’s not that I’m playing behind guys that are average. But being behind them, being able to practice against them every day and being able to hold my own and know that I’m doing well against them, gives me confidence.

I look at a lot of guys’ situations. I just feel I need the chance to play. I feel like if I had the opportunity, I’d be able to prove something.

Now if I landed in a situation where I was given the opportunity and I didn’t perform, I’d question, ‘What do I need to do? How do I find my niche?’ But I don’t feel like I’ve ever given the complete opportunity to establish what I exactly needed to work on.

You can’t judge a player by having him come in at the end of a game. Whereas, if you know that you’re getting in during the first or second quarter, that’s where I feel I can prove something.

But we started out so good, we have to keep rolling with what we’re doing. A guy like myself will have fun just as long as we’re winning. The guys are all happy and I’ll find a way to make them laugh in the locker room.

Being around negativity growing up and all around me, I grew up kind of a negative person. But I realized that wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

Growing up, it felt like negativity led to death or jail. So I decided I wasn’t going to go down that road.
Having a positive outlook on life and every situation got me through all of the tough situations. From losing friends to having a tough family situation, I always learned from other people’s mistakes.

When I started high school, I was still a negative person. I came from a situation where I was in the majority to going to a high school that was majority Caucasian.

I think that taught me a lot about myself. When I went there, I was stereotyped off the bat and being negative didn’t help.

It was something that I had to prove. I decided I was going to be a positive person and take the challenge of going to school full-time and never miss a day. That helped me build my character.

When my brother went into the army I kind of became the man of the house and had to learn to deal with adult situations early and help my mother out with my brothers and sisters.

I had to be strong for them and be their role model. And that played a part in me never wanting to give up.
I analyzed what made someone successful out of a bad situation and I saw that only a positive mindset would get me out of the situation I was in. I saw families that didn’t have anything in life.

People with less than nothing stayed happy and seemed to have a happy life. Things like that, I took into account.

This is a game and for me, it’s my life, but at the end of the day I have to realize that I have a family outside of my basketball family and things are a lot tougher out there for other people than me. I’m blessed to be in the position that I am in.

That’s one of the things that keep me going. In the Chicago area, there are a lot of people that call me and tell me that everybody is pulling for me and that understand the situation and know what I’m through.

At least I have a foot in the NBA. From here on out, I have to work my butt off to try get some playing time, but there are even worse basketball situations than the one I am in.

I have friends that are just trying to get in the door. I’m here so I have to make the most it. So the first step to being positive is appreciating that I’m here.

I’m around a lot of good guys where everybody is unselfish and everybody likes each other. That helps me stay positive too.

I take my goals a step at a time. But my main goal, and it might sound funny for a guy not playing, is to be a superstar in this league. I work to be a superstar, not a role player.

I’ve always set my goals high, so if I settle on being an All-Star, so be it (he laughs). My road here has probably come to an end but the journey was worth it.

I learned so much as far as mentally being tough and that’s one of those things that I’d never take back. A lot of people ask me if I regret playing here.

For one, I’d never take back everything that I’ve learned and all of the relationships that I’ve built here.
From the media, to the management, the guys in the locker room, I’ve always had fun here.

Little things like not playing, I feel like that’ll change because I work too hard. I feel like one day everybody will look and say, ‘Where’s Alando Tucker been the last three years after being Big Ten Player of the Year?’

There’s a possibility that I will stay play here, even though the team didn’t pick up my option. You never know what the moves will be, but if we’re going to keep essentially the same team, I probably won’t be here. It’s just something I realize.

But you never know with this upcoming class of free agents. Every team is trying to create room and money for this big year. I’m prepared to go as hard as I can for the rest of year and if I’m here next year, that would be a blessing, but I’ll set myself up for having to go work out for other teams just in case I’m not.

And I’m going to be the type of player that if another team should ever call about me to the Suns, they’re going to say nothing but positive things about me and that I was a professional… regardless of the situation. I want people to say he’s a good guy, a good teammate and a hard-worker.

Those are things that can get you a long way in this league, whether you play or not. Talent-wise, if I’m able to get a chance, that’s one thing I won’t doubt or ever question. Once I get on the court, I feel like I’ll be able to handle that.

I’m blessed to even have the opportunity to be here. Just for me being able to get out of my previous situation and knowing that I have so many people following me, supporting me and believing in me.

  • BadgerFan88

    Lando! U don’t need me saying this, obviously, but stay positive bro! We love you here in Madison, for life, we will never forget you! Keep working hard and put Chicago and Madison on your back wit ya! Badger Love baby. Lol

  • Q Bizzle

    I’ve seen you play on TV a few times, I think you deserve more playing time than you’re getting. It is a tough situation because all the other guys ahead of you are really good too. Well injuries always happen, and I’m sure the suns will need you soon. When that happens you will earn more playing time.

  • Chris Bushby

    Keep up the hard work and positive attitude Alando. You play with the world’s best basketball players and like you said, a lotta guys are just trying to get to where you’re at. But yeah, I think you’ll get your chance. And I think you’re right about being ready. Look at what happened to Channing Frye this season. He didn’t play much until he came to Phoenix and got his chance to prove himself. You’ll get your turn too. For now keep doing all the little things to improve your game on and off the court. Lastly, I think it’s great that you set your goals high. I think it’s the only way to reach high goals is to have them in the first place. Patience is allowing enough time for things to happen. Meanwhile, keep doing all the little things you can to improve. Your turn is coming so continue to be ready.

  • http://www.BlackAwesomeness.com Josh Argue

    Alando…. I’m at every game, and I see your work! You’re definitely on the right path and you’ve got the right idea. I know exactly how you feel when you try to outwork, outhustle and outplay guys in practice and in training sessions, and the clock isn’t indicative of the time you put in. I’ve watched you play since the Lockport days and I know deserve to be in this League! Keep workin hard, doin you and continue to challenge yourself everyday and everything will be just fine for you, Bro! At the end of the day, you can only control your part in this situation. You keep working and the “Exec. Office” stuff will work itself out!

  • JJ

    Alando, you’re an incredible person and I think you’re definitely going to do big things in the NBA some day. You’ve overcome so much in your life, and this is just one more hurdle to jump over. If you’re not here next year, we’re all really going to miss you, but we’ll be very happy that you’ll finally be getting an opportunity somewhere else. Keep working hard, and never lose your positive attitude!

  • Nashluvr89

    Awww Alando I really want u to stay! U’re a great guy, and I think u’re good player!

    SUNS KEEP ALANDO and GIVE HIM A CHANCE!!! Plus, he has Nashy and Hill to guide him and help him develop :)

  • Chuck

    There have been a lot of great athletes that became great later in their careers. Nash, Luis Gonzalez, Kurt Warner, Agassi. Learn from the best and one day you may be the best. And, when that happens, please do it in a Phoenix Suns uniform.

  • Jee J

    Lando, Im fortunate to have read this. I’ll be signing you as free agent in my keeper fantasy leagues and no one except for maybe Suns Fans fantasy players who’d know they’d have a future super star stat stuffer signed on their team. Im counting on you Lando. I hope you get into a good situation next year and break out not only into a superstar but a fantasy superstar as well (hint – just be yourself ;)

    Lots of love from your Filipino fans.

    P.S. You’re pretty entertaining too as far as your video appearances (loved that one when you danced to Vanilla Ice with Lou rapping haha..) Could you request Steve Nash to produce more funny videos of you? Laughter would be a big boost to your positivity and probably your game too :)

  • Cole

    Lando, Ima call you Lando. You’re in a tough situation and I feel for you. To keep such a optimistic outlook on things despite your situation is truly admirable. I wish there was a way to get those minutes you deserve. I am really glad I read this. I had been thinking about you after I heard the Suns didn’t pick up on the option of your contract. At the time I was worried but after reading this and knowing that you are still working as hard as ever, I have no reason to be concerned that you will eventually get your chance to shine, and if you keep working as hard as you say you are, you will shine. I just wanted to give you a quick shot of love Lando. Keep doing your thing, and you will have success in this league. Oh and Go Suns~!

  • dged P.I.

    Stay positive man! Things happened for a reason, just focus in your goal (being a superstar). What is important is your doing the right thing. Being positive and believing in yourself. Faith will bring you there!!!

  • Jake the Snake

    Suns give this cat some minutes. He is a good defender. He reminds me of Pat Burke in that he is a fan favorite, but he is better than Burke. One thing is for sure. The Suns will realize how lucky they are if LB or J-Rich (hopefully not) get injured. Suns are a good organization but they need lando more than they might imagine right now

  • JB

    I admire your positive outlook, Alando. I followed your entire collegiate career at Wisconsin and I enjoyed every minute of it. Whenever the Suns are on national TV I tune in with the hopes of seeing you play again. I know that someday soon that patience, commitment and dedication you show as a reserve will pay off.

  • star

    I remember when i went to a game last season and the suns were up by 20points in the 4th qrt and u came in to play and half the crowed went home and i was cheering for u like crazy and ppl were looking at me like i was crazy bt i know u a good player seen u play before and u just got to wait ur time will come and when it does u will show ppl what u got!!

  • http://suns.com alando tucker

    I just want to take the time to thank everyone who follows me and believes in me. I also want to thank you for taking the time in reading this story, trust me from the bottom of my heart i appreciate all of the feedback and responses i read. Thanks so much and keep following!!!!!!!

    Alando

  • http://marilynbgwill@aol.com yucaitis

    tuck – ( do boy ) its ur back up from high school docious. u no ur good so does evry 1 else. hang in there u will get / find what you want.

  • Latry

    Man jus keep good faith and stay strong. I would say don’t worry you’ll be going to. Better team soon but we all know the suns are the best :-) . Long story short I see u goin a long way in this league.

    Ps. Imma be at ur door step when yall finish wit this road trip cause I need those autographs lol. Be cool

  • Chris Marsh

    I have just read some of your blogs. I am very impressed and moved that a young person and professional such as yourself has made and kept the type of commitments that you have in your life. The character traits that you exhibit are to be admired far more than any basketball skils a person can possess. Whether the NBA works out or not (which I am sure over time will), you will continue to be succesful in all aspects of your life as you commit to the living the principles you have thus far in your life. Best wishes this season and beyond.

  • Jo Liz

    Lando,

    you’re a great guy. I chatted with you at one of your signings and although it is sad to hear that you may be leaving the Suns, maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe this is your chance to go out to another team that is in need of a great forward as yourself. I’m sure with your attitude and character you can go out there and become a franchise player. I’m positive you can go out there and make a name for yourself.

    Best of Luck,

    Jo :O)

  • jonathan montes

    Well, Tucker LB just went down against the raptors. This here is a huge opportunity for you to get a chance to showcase what you can bring. The next game is against the knicks too which means your more than likely get to play a full fourth quarter. CONGRATULATIONS

  • ReecePope

    Good way to get in their against the Knicks and get buckets… other people gettin all that time need to start gettin buckets… if not they need to get to the back of the BUS