Skip to main content

“TONI IS ONE OF THE MORE UNDERRATED PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY”

Toni-Kukoc

Toni Kukoč - the unsung hero of the 90s Bulls was one of the great international players in the NBA. He was among the first to open the door for players from the other side of the Atlantic, showing them it was possible to compete with the best of the best.

Before Toni, USA's and Europe’s basketball worlds were segregated, with a one-sided interest shown in the relation. Famous NBA author Sam Smith testifies to it, as he speaks of Kukoč as a complete unknown before coming to the league.

“NBA interest in Europe then was almost nonexistent. I had never heard of Kukoč.”

Sam Smith

With his performances in Chicago, Kukoč proved his worth to the NBA world, as he became an integral part of Bulls’ second three-peat, winning a 95-96 Sixth Man of the Year Award in the process. There’s a feeling that he could’ve done more on the individual level, as Toni possessed exceptional all-around abilities. However, he put the team’s interests above his own, which made him a part of one of the greatest runs in NBA history.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

That may be the reason Toni sometimes gets overlooked. Many have the same impression, especially after the airing of The Last Dance documentary, where Kukoč didn’t get the attention he deserved. Smith also sees Kukoč as unappreciated, as Toni was a lab rat in terms of being a high-impact foreign player deserving a real shot in the league, which was unknown territory for the NBA at a time.

“Kukoč is one of the more underrated players in NBA history because of the team he played with. With his ball-handling abilities and shooting, he could have been an all-time great. But he sacrificed his individual game and even played out of position as a rebounding power forward to accommodate the Bulls. Plus, the NBA still was uncertain about giving European players a prominent role in the 90s.”

Sam Smith

Toni, often being unheeded, has proof in the fact he still hasn’t been inducted in the Naismith Hall of Fame. Whether you agree with it or not, when you compare Kukoč to his peers who have already been inducted, it’s safe to say Toni deserves to be a part of that elite group. It’s something Sam Smith agrees with, as he believes Toni is once again a victim of setting aside for the benefit of the Bulls.

“Because he sacrificed individual statistics for the team and thus became the Sixth Man. The Hall of Fame doesn’t enshrine many reserve type players even though Toni often started. Toni was much better and more successful than his fellow players who are in, like Radja, Divac, and Marciulionis. Toni may be the best player ever from overseas to come to the NBA in his prime, unlike Sabonis. I believe he will get into the Hall of Fame within the next two years. He should have been inducted well ahead of players like Radja and Divas based on international accomplishments.”

Sam Smith

Great insight from one of the iconic figures in NBA sportswriting. Smith recognizes the player Toni Kukoč was and agreed with the overall take on him being unappreciated in NBA circles. Hopefully, it will soon change.

Lakers keeping an eye on Doc Rivers' availability

Los Angeles Lakers keeping an eye on Doc Rivers' availability

Doc Rivers just added another early playoff exit to his resume but the Los Angeles Lakers still want him.

Iman Shumpert on Luka Doncic-LeBron James comparisons: I don’t see the same type of dominance

Iman Shumpert on Luka Doncic-LeBron James comparisons: "I don’t see the same type of dominance"

Luka Doncic's game has been compared to Larry Bird, James Harden, and LeBron James. Not so fast, says Iman Shumpert as he claims James is more athletic than the Mavs star.

Robert Williams has shut down Bam Adebayo, and his play could end up winning the Eastern Conference Finals for the Boston Celtics

Robert Williams has shut down Bam Adebayo, which could end up winning the Eastern Conference Finals for the Boston Celtics

Williams has done a superb job of slowing down Miami's star center Bam Adebayo, and the Heat have struggled to make up for his lost production

ralph-sampson-min

The story of the original NBA unicorn

This guy is the closest thing we have to a Giannis Antetokounmpo comparison.

kenny anderson copy

That time when the New Jersey Nets shared showers with truckers

Compared to how teams operate these days, this is a pretty bizarre experience.

Danny Green on Gregg Popovich's greatness

Danny Green on why Gregg Popovich is good: "Because he believes he should've played in the NBA"

ccording to Danny Green, not playing in the NBA made Gregg Popovich great at what he does

Paul George reveals he struggled with sleepp inside the NBA Bubble

Paul George reveals he had sleepless nights for two weeks inside the 2020 NBA Bubble

Paul George became "Pandemic P" inside the Orlando Bubble and he revealed the reason behind his poor performances.

luka-doncic-jj-redick-larry-bird-magic-johnson-min

"It's not his fault they can't make shots"-JJ Redick defends Luka Doncic's ability to make teammates better

Redick thinks Luka is better than Magic Johnson and Larry Bird when it comes to making players around him better.