2 days ago
September 18, 1968 - toni kukoč was born in split, sr croatia, sfr yugoslavia. happy 49th birthday toni kukoč! after being drafted by the nba's chicago bulls in 1990, kukoč continued to play in europe, until finally reporting to the bulls in 1993, when the team had just finished its first three-peat and had lost michael jordan to retirement. while disappointed at the time that he could not play with jordan, kukoč made his nba debut on november 5, 1993. the 6'11" (2.11 m) kukoč came off the bench in 1993–94 behind small forward scottie pippen and power forward horace grant, though kukoč could play shooting guard and center as well. on january 21, 1994, in a game against the indiana pacers, reggie miller shot a mid-range jumper with 0.8 seconds remaining to give the pacers the lead. scottie pippen inbounded the ball to kukoc, and shot the 3 point jumper to give the bulls the win. kukoč put up a solid rookie season, averaging double-digit scoring and earning a berth on the nba all-rookie second team. on may 13, 1994, at the end of game 3 of the eastern conference semifinals, the bulls and the new york knicks were tied at 102 with 1.8 seconds left. bulls coach phil jackson designed the last play for kukoč, with scottie pippencharged with inbounding the basketball. pippen was so angered by jackson's decision to not let him take the potential game-winner that he refused to leave the bench and re-enter the game when the timeout was over. kukoč did hit the game-winner, a 23-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer, though the bulls eventually lost the series in seven games. after grant left in the offseason, kukoč moved into the starting lineup and finished the 1994–95 season second on the bulls in scoring, rebounds and assists, behind pippen. furthermore, michael jordan would return to the bulls in march, fulfilling kukoč's wish to play alongside him.
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