This is a look at Toni Kukoc, his stats, and his upcoming induction into the basketball hall-of-fame. Kukoc is going into the hall-of-fame because of his contributions made as a European player. It has nothing to do with his NBA career.
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Toni Kukoc: Hall-of-Fame
This past weekend Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan were enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of-Fame. Toni Kukoc will be inducted with the 2021 hall-of-fame class.
The 2021class will also include includes Paul Pierce, Chris Webber, Chris Bosh, Ben Wallace, Yolanda Griffith and Villanova coach Jay Wright.
Some NBA fans areMichael Jordan’s Bulls having another hall-of famer in Toni Kukoc. It’s an attempt to discredit Michael Jordan’s greatness. An untrue attempt, Michael Jordan is responsible for the Bulls six championships because of who he is and what he did.
Toni Kukoc isn’t going into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of-Fame for what he accomplished during his NBA career. He is being inducted by the International Committee for what he accomplished in Europe.
Toni Kukoc NBA stats
Toni Kukoc’s stats in the NBA aren’t terrible, but they’re far from anything that would garner Hall-of-Fame consideration. Kukoc wouldn’t even be a nominee for an NBA Hall-of-Fame.
Toni Kukoc averaged 11.6 points-per-game, 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and a steal for his career. He never averaged 20 points-per-game for a season or made an NBA all-star team.
Kukoc was a lousy defender. Offensively, he was a jump shooter. He couldn’t take opponents off the dribble with any consistency.
He won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 1996 and that was the ceiling for “The Spider of Split” in the NBA as far as individual accomplishments go.
His shooting stats were OK. He shot 44.7% from the field and 33.5% from three point range for his career. They aren’t bad numbers but they’re still below average. It’s not what you want from a player who isn’t giving you much besides scoring.
Coming to America?
Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and the teams GM Jerry Krause selected Toni Kukoc with the 29th pick in the 2nd round of the 1990 NBA Draft. This occurred a few months after the the The League of Communists of Yugoslavia dissolved in January 1990 along federal lines.
Reinsdorf and Krause would make trips to visit Toni, trying to recruit him to the Chicago Bulls. This could be likened to a college program recruiting top high school talent.
They would say things like how great it would be for him to play with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen or the success other ex-Yugoslavian basketball players like Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic were having in the NBA.
Kukoc finally joined the Chicago Bulls in 1993, three years after the team drafted him. 1993-94 was his first NBA season.
Toni Kukoc won three straight EuroLeague championships (1989-91) with KK Jugoplastika. They were four-time Yugoslav League champions from 1988-91.
He was a three-time EuroLeague Final Four MVP and the EuroLeague regular season MVP in 1991. Luka Doncic won these awards with Madrid in 2018.
“The Croation Sensation”, led KK Jugoplastika to the Triple Crown in 1990 & 1991. These are the reasons Kukoc is going to be inducted into the Naismith Hall-of-fame.
He joined Benetton Treviso of the Italian League in 1992. They won the Italian League championship in 1992 and the Italian Cup in 1993. Toni won named EuroLeague Final Four MVP again.
Toni Kukoc led the EuroLeague Finals in scoring in 1990. He was a five-time Euroscar player-of-the-year and a four-time Mister Europa.
Toni was named to the FIBA top 50 greatest players of all-time and as one of the 50 greatest EuroLeague contributors too.
Kukoc is going to the hall-of-fame mostly because of his career as a European player in the EuroLeague. His international career as a National Team member for Yugoslavia and Croatia also are a factor. He led Yugoslavia to the under-19 junior World Cup in 1987 and was that tournament’s MVP.
Kukoc was a member of the 1988 Yugoslavian silver medal Olympic team and in 1990 he was MVP of the FIBA World Championships and won Gold at the 1989 & 1991 EuroBasket tournaments. He was MVP of this tournament in 1991.
He was a member of the Croatian National team at the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He helped Croatia win a silver medal, they fell to the Dream Team in the Gold Medal Game.
The Naismith Hall-of-Fame is covered by four different committees. A North American Committee that covers the NCAA and NBA, a women’s committee, a veterans committee and an international committee.
The North American committee covers basketball in North America, while the international committee covers the rest of the world. Toni Kukoc is being inducted to the 2021 Naismith class only by the international committee.
If he was being inducted for his NBA career, it would have been by the North American committee. He wasn’t even a nominee.
Toni Kukoc was inducted into the FIBA hall-of-fame in 2017.
Before he came to the United States, his passing ability was being compared to that of Magic Johnson. He was nicknamed “The Waiter” in the EuroLeague because of his passing ability. His court vision must have been lost in translation when he got to America.
Tony Kukoc’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of-Fame has nothing to do with his NBA career. The international committee voted him in, not the NBA contingent.
When people say the Chicago Bulls had four hall-of-famers on their championship teams, this is true but it’s not accurate. Many LeBron James lovers, who have hatred towards Michael Jordan will use this to distort fans who don’t know any better.
The only player that was an NBA All-Star as a teammate of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls(1984-98) was Scottie Pippen. Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant, and Toni Kukoc were never all-stars playing with the Bulls.