Michael Jordan and former Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf presented Toni Kukoč last night as he was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Kukoč took to the stage in Springfield, Massachusetts on Saturday night to deliver a speech as he was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
“I would like to thank Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for kicking my butt during the Olympics in Barcelona, and then motivating me to work even harder to become an important part of the Chicago Bulls,” Kukoč said.
He did not forget the contribution of his native Split to his magnificent career.
“My father was the key to my sports engagement. I’ll tell you a story. In my city, football was the main sport and my father always pushed me into sports. At the age of eight, I started playing table tennis and football, and at 15, I got into basketball. In my opinion, Split is one of the most sporting cities in the world. Thanks to everyone who helped me on this journey,” said Kukoč.
Kukoč now joins fellow Croatians Dino Rađa (2018), Dražen Petrović (2002), Krešimir Ćosić (1996) and coach Mirko Novosel (2002) in the prestigious hall of fame.
Croatia is now second, behind USA, with the most players in the hall of fame.
Kukoč, 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.
The Class of 2021 inductees are ninth-winningest coach in NBA history Rick Adelman, two-time NBA champion and 11-time NBA All-Star Chris Bosh, NBA Finals MVP and 10-time NBA All-Star Paul Pierce, the first Black NBA head coach Bill Russell, four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and NBA Champion Ben Wallace, five-time NBA All-Star and NBA Rookie of the Year Chris Webber, two-time NCAA national champion Villanova coach Jay Wright, seven-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Yolanda Griffith and seven-time WNBA All-Star and three-time WNBA Most Valuable Player Lauren Jackson.
— Basketball HOF (@Hoophall) September 11, 2021