Toni Kukoč is a former Croatian basketball player. He currently works as a special advisor to Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
He had a very successful basketball career in Europe. Kukoc then started playing in the NBA. He was one of the first popular European players to have made ties with the NBA.
Your potential takes you to places regardless of your background and physical traits. Toni Kukoč first built an irreplaceable place for himself in the NBA, and now he is still associated with the company after retirement.
He is of the generation that paved the easy path for International players to be in the NBA. He is remembered for his exceptional versatility in the fields.
Now, we will dive deep into Toni Kukoč‘s personal and professional life. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Quick Facts about Toni Kukoč
|Full name||Toni Kukoč ([kukotʃ]|
|Nicknames||The White Magic, the Spider from Split, the Pink Panther, the Waiter, and the Croatian Sensation.|
|Birthdate||September 18, 1968|
|Nationality||Croatian / American|
|Father’s name||Ante Kukoč|
|Mother’s name||Radojka Kukoč|
|Age||53 Years Old|
|Height||6 feet 10 inches (208 cm)|
|Listed Weight||192 lbs. (87 kg)|
|Eye color||Dark Brown|
|Children||A son and a daughter|
|Children’s Name||Marin Kukoč
|Current Profession||Special advisor to Chicago Bulls’ owner|
|Former Profession||Basketball Player|
|Affiliation||European Basketball LeagueNational Basketball Association (NBA)|
|NBA draft||1990 / Round: 2 / Pick: 29th overall|
|Drafted by||Chicago Bulls|
|Other NBA Teams||Philadelphia 76ersAtlanta Hawks
|NBA debut||November 5, 1993 (With the Chicago Bulls)|
|Teams Outside NBA||KK Jugoplastika (Croatian League)Benetton Treviso (Italian youth basketball club)|
|Filmography||Once Brothers in 2010250 Steps in 2017
The Last Dance in 2020
|Awards and Honors||FIBA EuroBasket MVP in 1991FIBA’s 50 Greatest Players: (1991)
Franjo Bučar State Award for Sport in 1992
NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1994
NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 1996
50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors in 2008, etc.
|Hall of Fame||FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017|
|Net worth||Around $30 million|
|Social Media Handles||Facebook, Instagram, Twitter|
|Merch||Jersey, NFL Basketball Cards|
|Last Update||May, 2022|
Toni Kukoč – Early Life and Family
Toni Kukoč was born on September 18, 1968, in Split, Croatia, a beautiful company town on the Adriatic Sea. He was born to parents Ante Kukoč and Radojka Kukoč.
His father, Ante, worked in a shipyard in which almost half of the city worked. He was also an athlete, playing water polo and handball.
His mother, Rajojka, worked as a secretary.
The Versatile One
Tony Kukoc amazes people with his versatility. He played soccer when he was young.
He had praiseworthy hand-eye coordination, which impressed his teammates as well. Toni was a champion at ping pong/table tennis. He also received different youth category titles in table tennis.
He was attracted to golf after retirement from the NBA and became a scratch golfer. Toni underwent a hip replacement surgery in 2009 and was disturbed from playing.
He now plays at least one round of golf daily. He also won Croatia’s national amateur golf championship in 2011.
The multi-skilled Kukoc is also an all-rounder basketball player. His natural position was small forward, but he played all five positions on the court.
He not just played it but showed strong court vision and an outside shooting touch that was usually not found in players of his height. Toni stands at 6 feet 10 inches (208 cm).
Basketball: How it started?
Toni had not played basketball for the first 13-14 years of his life. He visited the beach one day with his friends when he was about 14, and then a basketball coach noticed him.
The coach saw his long legs and asked Toni if he was interested. Toni was flexible and could quickly adapt to the sport of any kind. Hence, he agreed to coordinate. There has been no going back since then.
Basketball became his home, first playing in the NBA and working as an advisor to a top-rated NBA team.
Toni then joined the city team. They were made to practice a lot and were not allowed to play until they practiced.
Toni liked the environment around basketball. He then stopped going to school at the age of 15 and instead attended practices held in the morning, evening, and afternoon.
It was something like, ‘yes I go to school but occasionally.’ The teachers at school were also interested in games, and they would ask Toni about who they would play with next in his ‘once in a while school visit.’
This or That
The school then sent a notice to Toni’s mother about him getting expelled as he had missed 200 days.
His mother was shocked and mad at him. She then went to the club and said that Toni was one injury away from never playing again. The club had to make a deal with the school.
Toni was fortunate as the GM of his team, and his school’s deans were cousins. An agreement was made stating that Toni would practice but at the same time read and attend exams at the end of the year.
Toni could only score 48 in Chemistry in finals when 50 was the passing mark. The teacher said that Toni had to repeat the class in the summer.
But Toni said that he was leaving with the national team and would never come back.
He says that he always thought about the NBA while playing in Croatia.
Toni Kukoč – Professional Basketball Career
He started playing basketball from his home town club, KK Jugoplastika, at the age of 17. He was one of the best players to have played with the club, achieving significant success.
The team became the winner at the prestigious EuroLeague for three seasons consecutively (1989–1991), with Toni on their side.
Similarly, they earned the Triple Crown in 1990 and 1991. Also, Toni was named the EuroLeague Final Four Most Valued Player (MVP) both times.
He then transitioned from KK Jugoplastika to Benetton Treviso. He stood up as the winner of the Italian League championship in 1992. Similarly, he won the Italian Cup in 1993.
Toni was also a participant in the EuroLeague final in 1993. Moreover, he won the EuroLeague Final Four MVP again.
People gave Toni various nicknames: the White Magic, the Spider from Split, the Pink Panther, the Waiter, and the Croatian Sensation.
He received the European Basketball Player of the Year Awards several times throughout the decade of the 1990s.
The Chicago Bulls drafted Toni in Round 2 of the 1990 NBA draft, 29th overall.
However, he gave continuity to his games in Europe for almost three years. He then finally reported to the Chicago Bulls in 1993.
The team had just finished its first three-peat and had lost Michael Jordan to retirement by that time. Toni was utterly disappointed that he could not play with Jordan.
He then played his NBA debut game on November 5, 1993.
He started in the 1993–1994 seasons behind small forward Scottie Pippen and power forward Horace Grant. However, he could play shooting guard and center as well.
He had a promising rookie season as he averaged double-digit, and scored and earned a berth on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
Toni then moved into the starting lineup, finishing the 1994–1995 seasons. He stood second in the Chicago Bulls in terms of scoring, rebounds, and assists. He was behind Scottie Pippen.
Michael Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls for the 1995–1996 seasons. Toni was more than pleased to hear the news. This will to play alongside Jordan was going to be fulfilled.
The entire members of Chicago Bulls were motivated and excited by Jordan’s return to full form and also the offseason acquisition of exceptional rebounder Dennis Rodman.
Scottie Pippen was still at small forward. Similarly, coach Phil Jackson decided to let Tony continue to be a bench player.
Tony stood up third on the team in scoring in the 1995-1996 seasons. He was behind Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
He earned the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award as his efforts were acknowledged.
Toni then contributed to leading the Chicago Bulls to a 25-game turnaround. They set the best record in league history at the time at 72–10. It was later surpassed by the 2015–16 Golden State Warriors.
The Chicago Bulls also won the fourth championship in team history.
Toni was the fourth and is currently the last player to have received the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award and the same year’s NBA title. McHale, Bill Walton, and Bobby Jones had achieved that feat earlier.
Toni again came off the bench as the sixth man as the Chicago Bulls won their fifth and sixth NBA titles in 1997 and 1998. He became the team’s third-leading scorer.
Toni Kukoč – Career ending and retirement
Scottie Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets in early 1999. The deal literally broke up the Chicago Bulls dynasty.
Kukoč was one of the only players from their championship team left at the Chicago Bulls.
He led the team in scoring, rebounding, and assists in the lockout-shortened 1998–1999 seasons.
Kukoč was then traded to the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1999–2000 seasons as Chicago Bulls continued their rebuilding scheme.
It was a three-team deal involving the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors sent Bruce Bowen, John Starks, and a 2000 first-round pick to the Chicago Bulls.
Kukoc was dealt with the Atlanta Hawks the following season. Nazr Mohammed, Pepe Sánchez, and Theo Ratliff were also dealt with along with him.
It was in a blockbuster deal where they sent Dikembe Mutombo and Roshown McLeod to the 76ers.
Kukoč was again traded to the Milwaukee Bucks after a brief period with the Atlanta Hawks. He was along with Leon Smith, in a deal to acquire Glenn Robinson.
Kukoč might have been annoyed with the constant trading and transition. He announced that he would retire from professional basketball if either the Milwaukee Bucks or the Chicago Bulls did not sign him for the 2006–07 NBA.
The announcement was made on September 12, 2006.
Many NBA teams showed interest in signing Tony Kukoc, but he chose to move always. He then lived close to his residence in the city of Highland Park, Illinois.
Toni Kukuoč – National Team Career
Toni was a part of the junior Yugoslavian Under-19 national team that won the 1987 FIBA Under-19 World Cup.
He was named the tournament Most Valued Player (MVP).
He also played as a member of the senior men’s Yugoslavian national team. The team received a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympic Games.
Similarly, he was named the MVP of the 1990 FIBA World Championship. Toni also earned a gold medal in the same tournament.
Furthermore, he received the gold medal at the EuroBasket 1989 and the EuroBasket 1991 with Yugoslavia.
He was also honored as the MVP of the 1991 EuroBasket tournament.
Toni won a silver medal with Croatia at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona.
He then received a bronze medal at the 1994 FIBA World Championship in Canada. Similarly, he again received a bronze medal at the 1995 EuroBasket in Greece.
Toni Kukoč– Wife and Children
Toni Kukoč is married to Renata Kukoč. The couple bought their Highland Park home after arriving in Chicago in 1993.
The couple had two children together: a son, Marin Kukoč, and a daughter, Stela Kukoč.
Marin Kukoč played for Highland Park High School’s varsity basketball team. He then got admitted to the University of Pennsylvania, continuing his basketball journey.
Toni’s daughter, Stela Kukoč, also plays college volleyball at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Toni Kukoč – Net Worth
Kukoč has earned really good money from his basketball career. He still makes good money from his job as an advisor for the Chicago Bulls. The transition from Croatia to the United States turned out to be very fruitful for him.
Kukoc’s net worth is estimated to be around $30 million.
Kukoč lives a decent life with his family.
Toni Kukoč – Social Media Presence
You can follow Kukoč via these hashtags:
Visit Toni Kukoč– Wikipedia to stay updated about his life happenings.
Common Queries about Toni Kukoč
Where is Toni Kukoč now?
Toni Kukoč retired from the NBA in 2006.
He then moved to live in suburban Chicago with his wife. He returns to Split, Croatia, to meet family and friends now and then.
Toni currently serves as a special advisor to Chicago Bulls President and COO Michael Reinsdorf, along with Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant.
What team did Toni Kukoč player for?
Kukoč played for the Chicago Bulls, whom he regards as family, for the longest time.
He played for the Jugoplastika club from 1985 to 1991 and the Benetton Treviso from 1991to 1993, back in Europe.
After debuting in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls on November 5, 1993, he did not leave the team until 2000.
He then played for the Philadelphia 76ers from 2000 to 2001, Atlanta Hawks from 2001 to 2002, and Milwaukee Bucks from 2002 to 2006.