Toni Kukoc admits he didn’t fully enjoy playoff buzzer-beater because Scottie Pippen quit on team
Former Chicago Bulls forward Toni Kukoc completed the biggest shot of his NBA career when he drained a 23-foot fadeaway buzzer-beater in Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Knicks.
However, the entire team was in no celebratory mood afterward, as Scottie Pippen’s decision to voluntarily sit out the final possession dampened their spirits.
While teams are usually giddy with delight after successful game-winners, Kukoc recalled how the entire squad fell silent shortly after that thrilling escape. The 6-foot-11 Croatian said this in the latest episode of The Last Dance on Sunday.
“Obviously happy for making the shot, but the whole situation, even going to the lockers, you see everybody is like pissed that things are not right,” Toni Kukoc admitted, referring to Scottie Pippen’s surprising action.
With the game tied at 102 with 1.8 seconds left, Jackson elected to have Pippen inbound the basketball for Kukoc to take the crucial shot.
Michael Jordan usually takes these kinds of shots for the Bulls, but he unceremoniously retired from the NBA prior to the start of the season.
After paying his dues and living under Jordan’s shadow for years, Pippen expected to be “the man” now for the Jordan-less Bulls.
Jackson’s decision to go with Kukoc certainly hurt Pippen’s ego, as he quit on his team in the final possession. It also didn’t help that Pip’s relationship with Kukoc was not amicable to begin with.
Pippen felt slighted that the Bulls shelled out big bucks for the international star, while management refused to work on amending his contract.
This inner turmoil perhaps played a huge factor in the outcome of the series, as the Bulls were eventually eliminated by the Knicks in seven games. It also marked Chicago’s first playoff series defeat in three years.