Kukoc was born on 18/9/68 in Split, Croatia, Kukoc was active in many kinds of sports since he was a little kid including soccer and table tennis, but his real interest in basketball only took place around the age of 14 when toni already was 1.85m(6-1 feet) tall, toni soon
developed a great low post moves and a soft touch from the paint, but what divided toni from the others is that though he played as a big man he also possessed an excellent dribbling and passing skills and a very good shooting from the perimeter!
so it wasnt a surprise that a two years later kukoc was already playing at the Yugoslavian junior national team, together with other players who later became an all-time legends like Vlade divac and dino radja.
One of this N.team great moments was at the 1987 world junior championship with a victory over the US J.National team when kukoc snipes 11 three pointers!
At his home town, Kukoc led his team, Jugoplastika Split for a three straight european championship at the years 1989,1990 and 1991 before moving to Benetton Treviso at 1992.
Though Kukoc was drafted as the 29th pick by the Chicago Bulls in 1990 he decided to remain in Split and be with his family because of the political situation before the 1991 Yugoslavian civil war.
But After He was aworded three times the European Player of the Year It was clear that Europe becoming too small for Kukoc, Playing that game, I saw that in Europe, I don't have a challenge anymore, he told to Sporting News in 1993, and Toni decided to try his luck at the NBA.
But Tonis encounter with the NBA hasnt been a love from first site, at least not from his teammates, it started in 1990, before signing with the bulls, when Pippens salary negotiations was delayed because the bulls manager Jerry Krause waited to Toni to decide if he will play at the bulls after picked in the draft, that and Krause and the entire Bulls management offering Kukoc big contracts made Kukoc a touchy subject on the Bulls stars.
During the 1992 Olympics, on the US-Croatian encounter, Pippen guarded Kukoc stoping him only on 4 points,
after the game Pippen told to the press he was disappointed by Kukoc performance, Kukoc first was mad by the grudge he had by his potential teammates, but Kukoc decided he will show what he's worth and on the game for the gold medal against the US dream team he showed a more aggressive performance scoring 16 points and dishing 9 assists, resulting later on to Jordan telling him that he would meet him in the NBA.
So in 19/6/1993 Kukoc signed a contract with the Bulls, the same year when Michel Jordan announced his
first retirement, what gave Toni the chance to become one of the teams dominating players, that year Toni average 10.9 points, 4 rebounds and 3.4 assists, at the end of the season he was chosen to the
NBA All-Rookie second team.
At the following season Toni opened at the starting lineup next to Scottie Pippen almost half a season, until Jordan decided to get back playing active Basketball, then though Toni didnt opened at the starting lineup he still averaged third at minutes played after Jordan and Pippen,When asked about riding his stationary bike to keep warm when not starting Toni said: What I am trying to do is get all the way around the world, Im measuring the miles each time I ride it, Once I make it around the world, Im going to stop, I started in Japan, and Im definitely going to stop over in Croatia.
in this season he averaged 15.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists on the Bulls trip to the championship, he also was selected by the media as the NBA Sixth Man of the Year.
Kukoc best season at the NBA was at 1998-99 though it was one of the worst for the bulls, after the famous 98 NBA strike and after Jordans second retirement and Pippen moving to the Houston Rockets Toni found himself to be one of the few players left from the bulls championship roster, Toni knew he need to
upgrade his game even more and played hard through the entire season opening at the starting lineup in 44 out of 44 games he played at the season, Toni lead the Bulls in scoring, rebounds and assists and was asked by the teams Captain Ron Harper to be named as his Co-captain.
On the 1999-2000 season the bulls was filled with young rookies and it was clear that the golden decade of the Bulls was over, Toni was traded for the Philadelphia 76ers, a year later at the seasons opening game Toni had a magnificent performance on the opening night against the Knicks, scoring 23 points, 4 steals, 3 assists and 4 rebounds in just 22 minutes off the bench, but that didnt impressed Larry Brown, the 76ers coach giving Toni little time off the bench and never used Toni properly to take advantage of his talents.
And on the 21/2/01 the 76ers traded Toni to the Atlanta Hawks for Dikembe Mutumbo.
On Atlanta it was a different story, the Hawks coach gave Toni credit and suddenly the bench player from Philadelphia became the Hawks
leading player,averaging almost 20 points a game, 6.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds, becoming only the fourth Hawk player in their history to have a triple double.
But not everything was perfect Toni suffered from back spasms and severe plantar fasciitis in his right foot, and missed the last 2 weeks of the season.
The next season wasnt his best seasons, averaging 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists so the trade didnt late to come, on 2/8/02 Toni was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks and despite suffering a broken thumb during the season which he had surgery on, he had a successful season,averaging 11.6 points, 4.20 rebounds and 3.7 assits.
Today Toni is still playing at the Bucks and managed to reach to the 2004 playoffs but was eliminated by Detroit at the eastern conference first round.
- Height: 2.11 / 6-11 feet
- Weight: 106.6kg / 235 lbs
- Position: Power Forward.
- Birthdate: 09/18/68
- European U-16 Champion 1985
- European U-18 Champion 1986
- World U-18 Champion 1987
- Voted Most Outstanding Player at the World Jr. Championships in 1987 .
- MVP of the 1990 World Basketball Championship in Argentina .
- Silver Medal Winner for Yugoslavia 1988 Seoul Olympics .
- European Champion 1989,1990,1991 with Jugoplastika Split .
- 1990 World Champion with Yugoslavia .
- 3 times voted the European Player of the Year .
- Silver Medal Winner for Croatia in 1992 Barcelona Olympics .
- Played for Benetton Treviso 1991-92 averaging 20.5 pts per game FG% .563 .
- Played for Benetton Treviso 1992-93 averaging 19.0 pts per game FG% .526 .
- Bronze Medal at the World Championships in 1994 for Croatia .
- Bronze Medal at the European Championships in 1995 for Croatia .
- Participated in the inaugural NBA Rookie Game during All-Star Weekend 1994
- Named to the 1993-94 NBA All-Rookie Second Team after averaging 10.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 3.4 apg
- Named 1995-96 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 13.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 3.5 apg for the Bulls
- Won 3 championships with the chicago bulls.
- Scored 34 points vs the Miami Heat in 4/04/96.
- Toni has a German Shepherd named Asta that he brought from Europe with him and his family.
- Toni's best friend is Dino Radja who was also the best man at his wedding.
- Toni was an age group Croatian Table Tennis Champion when he was 14.
- Toni is the youngest of two, he has a sister, Sandra, who is 4 years older.