Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 11/17/14

The Chicago Bulls of the 90’s were not only the locale of Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman; they also featured some of the deepest benches in basketball. An integral piece in the Bulls’ second three-peat was the sixth man and versatile Croatian Toni Kukoc, a 6’11” Small Forward that fits the stereotype for what we’ve come to know about European players. Kukoc was drafted with the 2nd pick of the 2nd round by the Bulls, and actually stayed in Croatian leagues for three years after getting picked. His nicknames gained from prowess oversees include, “The White Magic”, “The Spider From Split”, and “The Croatian Sensation.” His length and athleticism allowed him to enjoy an advantage on both sides of the ball against wing players, and when needed, Kukoc could also slide into the four spot when the Bulls wanted to play ‘small’.

Kukoc made an immediate impact when he finally came to the Bulls for the 1993-4 season, garnering All-Rookie Second Team honors. However, Kukoc began to play at a truly high-level in the NBA when Jordan returned after his brief foray into baseball. The 1995-6 season was perhaps Kukoc’s finest during the Jordan years, with the Croatian averaging 13.1 points/game on 49% shooting, while connecting on a little over 40% of his shots behind the arc. He also racked up 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists while playing 26 minutes a game. It was this potent combination of versatility and his defensive ability that allowed Kukoc to gain NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors for that season. He continued this success as a sixth man until Jordan’s second retirement from the Bulls after the 1997-8 season. After MJ’s retirement, Kukoc was one of the few Bulls players remaining from that second dynasty, and he was forced into a ‘starring’ role for the woeful post-Jordan Bulls. He averaged almost 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists a game in an injury plagued 1998-9 season, and was traded to Philadelphia the next year. He then moved from the Sixers, to the Hawks, and then finally the Bucks. He was injured frequently, never obtaining the same level of success he had during the Bulls glory days.

Kukoc will be remembered for his classic European-style of play. A 6’11” Croatian forward complete with ball handling skills, a three-point shot, and defensive expertise is a player not unlike current European transplants Andrea Bargnani, Danilo Galinari, and Dirk Nowitzki. Kukoc did not approach the levels of play shown by Dirk, and was ultimately best suited for his early role on the Bulls as a sixth man. However, the lanky Croatian’s success in the NBA may have helped trigger more interest from GMs for tall European finesse players. Toni Kukoc retired before the 2006-7 and now lives with his family in Highland Park, Illinois.

-Fitzburgh

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Murray would reportedly give Cowboys hometown discount

Report: Giants ‘considering a run’ at Ndamukong Suh

Darnell Dockett reportedly visiting 49ers on Tuesday

David West on Brian Shaw being fired: ‘That’s bulls–t'

Hamels trade talk motivating Red Sox pitching staff

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Yankees fire employee over Curt Schilling's daughter tweets

Ravens settle grievance, pay Ray Rice $1.6 million

A-Rod goes 0-2 against Yankees pitching machine 'Iron Mike'

Redick: Flip Saunders told me to ‘shut the f— up’ three times

Ohio native Brian Hartline to visit Browns today

Report: Celtics to pursue Love, Monroe and Gasol this summer

Trying to solve the Alex Guerrero problem

Mets to host families of slain NYPD officers at spring training

Teams that should be on NCAA Tourney upset alert

SpongeBob SquarePants: The newest NASCAR race sponsor

Winners and losers of the NHL trade deadline

Andrew Luck shaved beard, left mustache

Museum to give away DeLorean if Cubs win World Series

Jameis Winston looking to trademark 'Famous Jameis'

Maple Leafs burned on Twitter by frustrated fan

Keith Olbermann putting an end to his Twitter 'batting practice'

Prospect receives 75 cent check from Yankees

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Ten most underrated NFL free agents

Five potential landing spots for Andre Johnson

Texas-Baylor fight leads to 7 ejections

Mark Cuban will be Prez in 'Sharknado 3'

Report: Redskins interested in Suh

Report: Revis likely to hit free agency

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter

MJ makes Forbes billionaire list

Nick Young fires back at Robert Flores

Sad LeBron literally looks in mirror after loss to Rockets

MLS 2015 season preview

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.