Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen implied the infamous Toni Kukoc decision by head coach Phil Jackson was racially motivated.
27 years have past since Phil Jackson had Toni Kukoc take the last shot for the Chicago Bulls, and hall-of-fame forward Scottie Pippen believes racism was at the core of the controversial decision.
While Kukoc made the bucket in question vs. the New York Knicks in the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Pippen refused to be on the court when Jackson drew it up for the young Croatian standout instead of him. This was a notable storyline in the 10-part ESPN documentary The Last Dance last summer. It was also a prominent part of Tyler Tynes’ GQ feature on Pippen last week.
Things got a little dicey when Pippen appeared on The Dan Patrick Show to talk about it Monday.
Scottie Pippen implies the Toni Kukoc decision made by Phil Jackson was racist
Pippen’s argument is that Michael Jordan was retired at this time and he was the best player on the 1993-94 Bulls. While Kukoc was a promising player from Eastern Europe, he was only in the infancy of his NBA career. Though the shot went in, the Bulls lost to the Knicks in this best-of-seven series. Patrick Ewing’s team went on to play the Houston Rockets in the 1994 NBA Finals.
Though we do not know what was said behind the scenes during this era of Bulls basketball, we do know from The Last Dance that Pippen signed a horrible second contract with Chicago and opted to wait until the start of the 1997-98 NBA season to have knee surgery out of spite for the organization. Regardless, implying that Jackson is a racist is a bold claim for Pippen to make here.
Pippen’s appearance on The Dan Patrick Show Monday got more uncomfortable by the second.