Chicago Bulls: Toni Kukoc deserved Hall-of-Fame induction?

(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The discussion surrounding snubs from the 2019 Basketball Hall-of-Fame class began recently, including Chicago Bulls former star Toni Kukoc.

The time of year for NBA Hall-of-Fame induction ceremonies arrived of late, and the Chicago Bulls usually have at least one candidate up for the honors. That was true once again this year as the franchise’s former standout forward Toni Kukoc came just short of getting an induction to the Basketball Hall-of-Fame as part of the 2019 class.

A long career and a decorated resume for Toni Kukoc does present a solid argument that he was snubbed during the 2019 NBA Hall-of-Fame induction process. Toni Kukoc is one of the better players to also ever suit up in a Bulls uniform in the Windy City. He was a prominent piece of a few of those great 1990’s Bulls teams, alongside the likes of all-time great shooting guard Michael Jordan.

The prominence of boosting the play of MJ alone, along with winning numerous NBA Titles, should be enough to push Kukoc into a Hall-of-Fame class eventually. MJ was inducted into the Hall-of-Fame a while back, and got the obvious push that he needed to reach that point.

Another one of the former teammates of Toni Kukoc spoke out regarding his case for Hall-of-Fame induction recently with forward Scottie Pippen. In a piece with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Pippen stated that Toni Kukoc should join him in the Hall-of-Fame and that “he deserves it”.

Kukoc began his long 13 season NBA career with the Bulls back during the 1993-94 season. He finished out his NBA career at the age of 37 with the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2005-06 campaign. Kukoc registered 14.1 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals during his time with the Bulls.

The best individual season that Kukoc came up with was at the age of 30 during the 1998-99 season. He averaged a career best 18.8 points per game, seven rebounds, and 5.3 assists. If Kukoc was able to register those averages he came up with during the 1998-99 campaign for the entire course of his NBA career, then his Hall-of-Fame case might be stronger.

However, these numbers just don’t seem good enough for Kukoc to get the consideration he needs to even be an afterthought for one of the upcoming Hall-of-Fame induction classes. His numbers after his days with the Bulls just weren’t very good. He did alright with the Atlanta Hawks, but his days with the Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers saw him average points per game in the single digits.

In comparison to the 2019 Naismith Memorial Hall-of-Fame inductees, Toni Kukoc does have a case that he was a snub. That is mostly due to the fact of the surprise induction in this class of the former Sacramento Kings big man Vlade Divac. Kukoc does have more NBA Championships and individual accolades than Divac by a good margin.

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A good portion of the rest of this Hall-of-Fame induction class matches up to the bill, and mostly outweighs the production that Kukoc posted during his solid NBA career. With all this in mind, Kukoc is still one of the better players in Bulls franchise history and the fact that he’s getting recognition for induction in the first place shows how valuable he was in the Windy City.