Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Toni Kukoč (born September 18, 1968 in Split, Croatia) is a renowned basketball player. He played for Jugoplastika Split and Benetton Treviso, won the title of European Player of the Year three times. He was also on teams that won the FIBA World Junior Championship (1987 for Yugoslavia), two Olympic silver medals (1988 for Yugoslavia and 1992 for Croatia), and the FIBA World Championship (1990 for Yugoslavia).
Having been drafted by the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1990, he 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 baseball.
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 he could play shooting guard and center as well. Kukoč put up a solid rookie campaign, averaging double-digit scoring and earning a berth on the all-rookie second team. 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.
In the 1995-96 season, although Kukoč was improving rapidly, he was again coming off the bench. Michael Jordan had returned, and the Bulls had acquired rampant rebounder Dennis Rodman in the offseason. With Pippen still at small forward, coach Phil Jackson saw it best to have Kukoč spark games when he came in with bursts of scoring. Toni was third on the team in scoring behind Jordan and Pippen, and was rewarded for his efforts with the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. He also assisted the Bulls to a 25-game turnaround and the best record in league history at 72-10, as well as the fourth championship in team history.
In 1997 and 1998 Kukoč again came off the bench as sixth man as the Bulls won their fifth and sixth NBA titles; once again, he was the team's third-leading scorer.
In the summer of 1998 the team was dismembered, and Kukoč found himself the lone marquee player left. In the 1998-99 season he led the team in scoring, rebounding, and assists. During the 1999-2000 season he was traded to Philadelphia as Chicago continued their rebuilding scheme, and soon moved to Atlanta before stopping at the Bucks in Milwaukee.
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