20 December 2019 – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced candidates for the Class of 2020 with two Croatian players among the nominees.
For the third consecutive year, former Chicago Bulls star and Croatian international Toni Kukoc (51) is among 50 candidates nominated to join the Hall of Fame. Kukoc is joined on the list again by fellow Croatian Josip (Giuseppe) Gjergja (82), as well as Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh, and coaches Rick Adelman, George Karl, Dick Motta and Rudy Tomjanovich.
Kukoc, who has already been inducted into the FIBA international basketball Hall of Fame, was one of the first established European stars to play in the NBA, winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1996 and 3 NBA Championships with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.
He won a number of accolades throughout his impressive career, including being a 3-time Croatian Sportsman of the Year, FIBA World Championship MVP, 4-time Mister Europa Player of the Year and a double Olympic silver medalist.
Born in Zadar, Gjergja wore the KK Zadar jersey for 18 consecutive seasons, thus becoming one of the club’s legends. He represented the Yugoslav national team and won two FIBA World Cup silver medals in 1963 and 1967, as well as playing in the Olympics twice in 1960 and 1964. He coached Croatia in 1994 and led them to the FIBA World Cup bronze medal at the World Championships.
A shortlist of 12 names will be announced during NBA All-Star Weekend in February, with and the newest class of inductees named in April during the Final Four.
There are four Croatians currently inducted in the Hall of Fame – Dino Rada (2018), Drazen Petrovic (2002), Kresimir Cosic (1996) and coach Mirko Novosel (2002).