Kukoč picks his favorite teammates. Jordan won’t be happy.

Kukoč picks his favorite teammates. Jordan won’t be happy.

Toni Kukoč and Scottie Pippen had a rough start in their relationship. Kukoč was drafted by the Bulls in 1990 but didn’t want to come over to Chicago from Europe right away. For the next three years, the Bulls would praise Kukoč to convince him to come over, while having Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen winning rings. The superstars didn’t appreciate that, especially Scottie who’s contract negotiation stalled in part because the Bulls saw Kukoč as a potential substitution for Pippen.

That’s why MJ and Pippen were arguing who will defend Kukoč in the ’92 Olympics and lock him down to prove he’s not good enough to replace Scottie. A year later, Kukoč arrived on the day Jordan announced his retirement. Scottie would become the no.1 option, and Kukoč got a prominent role in the rotation. You’d think all the resentment would create issues in the locker room, but the truth is the opposite. When asked about the best teammates he had, MJ didn’t make the cut. Kukoč raved about Pippen and Rodman.

“If I were picking teammates, I’d pick the two of them first. They would help so much on defense, play unselfishly for you as a teammate, and make you feel so good on the court. They were true team players. Pippen was especially helpful to me, a teammate that would never walk out on you. Out of all my teammates, he helped me the most.”

Toni Kukoč, Večernji List

Jordan is the greatest ever, and that made playing with him tough. The pressure of missing a shot once you finally got the ball was tremendous, and if you missed you didn’t get the ball again. Playing with superstars often meant winning, and Kukoč always points out that he three rings because he was fortunate to play with MJ and the Bulls. But there’s a difference between winning and enjoying the game.