Sunday, 12 September 2021

Toni Kukoč Officially Becomes A Member of the Basketball Hall of Fame

September 12, 2021 - In a ceremony held last night, Toni Kukoč officially became an enshrined member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The ceremony of the induction of the class of 2021 was held in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Split-born former basketball star was joined by other superstars - Chris Bosh, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace, and Chris Webber, and coaches, referees and contributors Rick Adelman, Bill Russell, Jay Wright, Val Ackerman, Howard Garfinkel, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Bob Dandridge, Pearl Moore and Clarence "Fats" Jenkins. As we've previously written, Kukoč was introduced to the Hall of Fame by his former team-mate, Michael Jordan, who recently visited Toni's home town of Split, and Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls owner for the past 35 years.

In his emotional speech, Toni remembered his childhood in Split and the importance of Hajduk Split in his youth. He also mentioned numerous coaches and other people who have helped him become the biggest European basketball superstar before his move to the NBA. He also remembered the 1992 Olympics finals, in which Croatia played against the original (some would say, the only) Dream Team, and how much Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen "kicked his butt" in the game, which made him work even harder to make sure he'd become a valuable Chicago Bulls player. That story is told wonderfully and with a lot of humour in the last year's hit documentary series "Last Dance". Toni thanked his former teammates and now both Hall of Famers, Dino Rađa and Vlade Divac, for being present at this ceremony.

You can see the entirety of Toni Kukoč's speech below:

Toni Kukoč started his basketball career in Split's Jugoplastika team, and he became Yugoslavia champion four times and won the European championship three times in a row (the team changed its name). After playing for Benetton Treviso for two years, he went to the Chicago Bulls, who drafted him as the 29th overall pick in 1990. With Bulls, he won the three NBA championships, and in 1996 was given the title of the "Sixth man of the year". After the Bulls, he played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, and Milwaukee Bucks. With the Yugoslavia and Croatia national teams, he won two Olympic silver medals (1988 in Seoul and 1992 in Barcelona), became a World Champion (1990 in Argentina), and was also the MVP of that entire tournament. Toni retired from active basketball in 2006, and is currently a special advisor to the President and COO of the Bulls, Michael Reinsdorf.

With Toni's induction, Croatia is now the second nation, behind the USA, with the most people in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame! The list of Croatian Hall of Famers includes the late great players Krešimir Ćosić (inducted in 1996) and Dražen Petrović (2002), legendary coach Mirko Novosel (2007) and Toni's friend and long-time teammate Dino Rađa (2018). And there are some other names on the list of the Hall of Famers, such as George Mikan (inducted in the inaugural year, 1959!) and Rudy Tomjanovich (2020) who are known to be of Croatian descent. It will be interesting to see when the next Croatian player will become a member of the prestigious group since we have not had any major basketball success or any superstars for what feels like decades now.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Michael Jordan to Present Toni Kukoč at Basketball Hall of Fame Induction

August 13, 2021 - The legendary Michael Jordan will present Toni Kukoč at the Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony next month!

After it was announced in May that Toni Kukoč would be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Illinois, we learned on Thursday that one of the greatest basketball legends to live would introduce the Croatian basketballer to the Hall of Fame.

When talking about basketball greats, it's impossible to miss mentioning the legendary American basketball player and one of the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan, Kukoč's teammate on the Chicago Bulls. Jerry Reinsdorf, longtime owner of the Bulls, will join Jordan on stage with the former Croatia national team player during the ceremony on September 11, 2021, at the MassMutual Center. 

Along with Kukoč, owner of three NBA rings, the 2021 class includes Val Ackerman, Rick Adelman, Chris Bosh, Bob Dandridge, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Howard Garfinkel, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Clarence Jenkins, Pearl Moore, Paul Pierce, Bill Russell, Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, and Jay Wright.

Toni Kukoč will become the fifth Croat in the Basketball Hall of Fame after Krešimir Ćosić (1996), Dražen Petrović (2002), Mirko Novosel (2007) and Dino Rađa (2018).

Although he was a three-time NBA champion and winner of the award for the best sixth player in the strongest league globally, a league where he spent 13 years, Kukoč could not have a place in the Hall of Fame based on his NBA career. That is why he was nominated as a candidate for international basketball, and a special International Committee decides on its representative every year. It consists of seven members, and a nominee must receive six affirmative votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

With the inclusion of Kukoč, Croatia became the country with the most representatives in the Hall of Fame after the USA. So far, it has been tied at the top with Serbia, which has four - Divac, Bora Stankovic, Aleksandar Nikolic, and Drazen Dalipagic.

 

Kukoč is the only basketball player in history who has not only won the European Champions Cup / Euroleague and the NBA ring three times but did so for three years in a row. During all three European titles with Jugoplastika, he was named the best player of the Final Four, winning two of the most prestigious European individual awards (Euroscar and Mister Europa) nine times. He also won four championships and two Yugoslav cups, as well as the Italian league and cup. In addition, he won the Olympic silver in Barcelona in 1992 and two European and one world bronze with the Croatia national team. He was also an Olympic silver medalist with Yugoslavia in 1988, won the world gold, two European gold, and one bronze and three gold with junior selections.

Source: HRT

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Sunday, 16 May 2021

Finally! Toni Kukoč to be Inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame!

May 16, 2021 - Toni Kukoč will finally be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this September! 

Index.hr reports that it was simply a matter of time, although it is not clear to anyone today why it all took so long. Toni Kukoč, a virtuoso from Split and the most trophy-winning Croatian basketball player of all time, will be part of the 2021 Hall of Fame class, which will be officially inducted in September in Springfield. 

Kukoč will enter the elite class in his eighth attempt, after the Chicago Bulls nominated him in 2014, and thus become the fifth Croat in the company of basketball immortals.

Before him, Krešimir Ćosić was admitted in 1996, Dražen Petrović in 2002, Mirko Novosel in 2007 and Dino Rađa in 2018.

Although he was a three-time NBA champion and winner of the award for the best sixth player in the strongest league globally, Kukoč could not have a place in the Hall of Fame based on his NBA career. That is why he was nominated as a candidate from international basketball, and a special International Committee decides on its representative every year. It consists of seven members, and a nominee must receive six affirmative votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

 

With the inclusion of Kukoč, Croatia became the country with the most representatives in the Hall of Fame after the USA. So far, it has been tied at the top with Serbia, which has four - Divac, Bora Stankovic, Aleksandar Nikolic, and Drazen Dalipagic.

Kukoč deserved his place in the Hall of Fame not only with fantastic games and numerous trophies, but also as one of the six European pioneers - along with Dražen, Divac, Rađa, and Lithuanians Sabonis and Marčiulionis - who led the way for hundreds of non-American basketball players to the strongest league in the world. His style of play made him a forerunner of newer stars like Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, or Nikola Jokić - tall players who know everything about the ball and go far beyond the former expectations of such basketball players.

But his trophies are a story unto themselves. Kukoč is the only basketball player in history who has not only won the European Champions Cup / Euroleague and the NBA ring three times but did so for three years in a row. During all three European titles with Jugoplastika, he was named the best player of the Final Four, winning two of the most prestigious European individual awards (Euroscar and Mister Europa) nine times. He also won four championships and two Yugoslav cups, as well as the Italian league and cup. He won the Olympic silver in Barcelona in 1992 and two European and one world bronze with the Croatia national team. With Yugoslavia, he was also an Olympic silver from 1988, a world gold, two European gold, and one bronze and three gold with junior selections.

He spent 13 years in the NBA, but he spent the best ones on arguably the best NBA team of all time in which he modestly accepted a supporting role, although he would be a major star in most other teams. That’s why he didn’t have spectacular statistics, and that’s why Americans will never appreciate him as much as they should.

This recognition will remind them of what we in Europe have known for decades - what a player Toni Kukoč was.

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Saturday, 21 December 2019

Toni Kukoc and Giuseppe Giergia Nominated for Basketball Hall of Fame

December 21, 2019 - Two legendary Croatian basketball players Toni Kukoc (51) and Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Giergia (82) have been listed among the 50 candidates nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Illinois. 

T.portal writes that for Toni Kukoc - one of the best Croatian basketball players of all time - this is the third nomination in total, while Giergia is among the candidates nominated for the first time. Serbian coach Ranko Zeravica is also on the list of 50 nominees.

Other celebrity players on the list include Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh, and coaches Rick Adelman, George Karl, Dick Motta and Rudy Tomjanovich.

During the NBA All-star weekend, from February 14-16, a shortlist of 12 names will be known and the final selection will be held in April 2020.

Kresimir Cosic, Drazen Petrovic, Mirko Novosel and Dino Rada are the Croatian players who have entered the Hall of Fame so far.

According to analysts, Kukoc, who is a three-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls and left a deep mark on European and world basketball, has never been closer to joining the Hall of Fame. Still, this is his third nomination.

“For every athlete, entering the Hall of Fame is a tribute to your sports career and all you have done. The Americans have made this very clear; you have to have success behind you, a handful of medals won and only then can you be nominated,” said 82-year-old Giergia, who still plays basketball with his friends once a week.

When he heard the news that he was nominated for the Hall of Fame, where his former teammate and good friend Kresimir Cosic holds a spot, he was proud.

"I always said what I think, so everyone knows that because of the late Kreso and myself, who won trophies and gold medals with Zadar and the Yugoslav national team - Zadar was given the epithet of the ‘city of basketball’. Everything else is onions and water. Look at where our basketball is today,” Giergia added.

Giuseppe 'Pino' Giergia began his career at KK Zadar, where he played for 18 consecutive seasons. With Zadar,  Giergia won the Yugoslav League five times, the Cup once, and for Yugoslavia, he won the silver medal at the 1963 and 1967 FIBA World Cups, and the EuroBasket in 1965.

ToniKukoc, on the other hand, after an incredibly successful career in Europe which saw him win the EuroLeague three times with Jugoplastika and be named the EuroLeague Final Four MVP, he became NBA champions with the Chicago Bulls three times and was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year. And that’s just part of it. 

Recall, the final selection of new Hall of Fame residents will be announced during the NCAA (Final Four) finals in Atlanta in early April 2020, while the Hall of Fame induction ceremony itself will take place on August 29 in Springfield.

You can see the full list of nominees here.

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Thursday, 20 December 2018

American Journalist Insults Dražen Petrović, Invites Wave of Criticism

An American journalist insults Dražen Petrović and invites a wave of criticism on social media for her clumsy statement, for which she appears to have offered no apology.

As SibenikIN writes on the 19th of December, 2018, in a short video clip about Carmelo Anthony and his legacy, American journalist Elle Duncan mentions Croatia's basketball legend Dražen Petrović, bizarrely claiming that he found himself in the Hall of Fame despite the fact that he, at least according to her, ''didn't leave his mark on the game'' like Carmelo Anthony has. In short, Carmelo Anthony and his career were glorified in the video clip, as tportal reported.

After having listed what could be placed as Anthony's legacy within the sport, the American journalist insults Dražen Petrović, stating that the list ''doesn't mean much'' because Dražen Petrović (which was also pronounced wrongly) is there," before claiming that the Croatian basketball star ''didn't leave his mark on the game'' like Anthony did.

In short and without going on and on, the American ESPN journalist obviously thinks some basketball players who weren't that great at the NBA have also still managed to find their places in the Hall of Fame.

As could be expected, shortly after the release of this video material, the style of which was intended to be amusing somehow, comments began being made in which the vast majority of readers thought that the journalist's ''performance'' was ridiculous, others stated how much of a sad state of affairs it must be for someone like her to be commenting on basketball.

This poses the question as to exactly why Croatia's incredible Dražen Petrović, of all the possible basketball players in the Hall of Fame, can be a bad example in Duncan's opinion? Just how the iconic Dražen Petrović, who played an enormous part in making it possible for many foreign players to get a chance in that world, could be a poor example, obviously only she knows. Does she know anything at all about Dražen's sporting career before joining the NBA, during which he dominated the court in the then Yugoslav and the Croatian national team? Unlikely.

The American journalist's Twitter profile, on which some extremely negative comments have been being received, is completely buried. Of course, more than 90 percent of the basketball lovers commenting ''invited'' her to apologise for her mistake, but it seems she's refusing to do so. The fact that she has offended Dražen Petrović, his family, and all those who appreciate the Mozart of basketball, clearly doesn't phase her. Her knowledge of the fact that there is a Museum dedicated to Dražen Petrović himself in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, which has been visited by many NBA stars, as well as numerous American journalists, is probably also slim.

''It's unbelievable and unnecessary to show such a lack of respect for Dražen Petrović. He was a fantastic basketball player who created a path for all other European basketball players in the NBA. He was tragically injured before he could give anything to the NBA. You could've done this without mentioning Dražen,'' stated one comment.

''Only a completely ignorant person can claim that Dražen Petrović didn't leave a mark in basketball. Dražen left his mark all over the world and achieved incredible things before he even reached the NBA. No wonder everyone thinks of ESPN as bad television when you've got such reporters,'' reads another scathing comment.

In order to glorify someone, one doesn't need to put another down. This is usually something learned early on in life, but that lesson obviously hasn't reached everyone.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated sport and lifestyle pages for much more.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Dino Rađa Inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

The Croatian basketball and sports legend has achieved basketball's highest honor. 

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