Toni Kukoc was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night, 15 years after his retirement from the sport of basketball.
As a three-time NBA champion and arguably the best or second-best player of the early 90s in Europe, his track record is beyond reproach. Not only does Kukoc deserve the honor, but there is a fair case to be made that it should’ve happened earlier.
In the lead-up to Saturday’s Hall of Fame induction, Kukoc spoke openly regarding his time with the Chicago Bulls. Although it wasn’t without hiccups, and despite some notable run-ins with Michael Jordan, he seems to look back on the time fondly.
That said, Jordan was not his favorite teammate during that Bulls stint. Rather, that distinction belongs to Scottie Pippen.
“I always say Michael probably was the best player,” Kukoc said, per Sam Smith of NBA.com. “Scottie, to me, was as important as Michael. Because of that idea that Scottie was taking care of the whole team and was guarding people. He would bring the ball up and would find the right people and then for Michael it was, ‘OK, take us home.’”
Given the lingering beef that exists between Jordan and Pippen these days, the latter is no doubt happy to get this small win over his former teammate.
During his speech on Saturday, Kukoc made it a point to shout out both Jordan and Pippen.
“I would like to thank Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for kicking my butt during the Olympics in Barcelona, and then motivating me to work even harder to become an important part of the Chicago Bulls.” – Toni Kukoc pic.twitter.com/dPihZfdudB
— NBA (@NBA) September 12, 2021
“I would like to thank Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for kicking my butt during the Olympics in Barcelona, and then motivating me to work even harder to become an important part of the Chicago Bulls,” he said.
Kukoc is an undeniable basketball legend, and Europeans following the sport in the 1990s understand better than most the impact he had. It’s nice that after all these decades, he’s finally getting the respect he deserves – unlike one of his more notable Bulls teammates.
Dak Prescott stays winning. https://t.co/WN2voiN8k7
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 11, 2021