Toni Kukoc On How Phil Jackson Punished Power Forwards And Centers Who Shot 3-Pointers

Toni Kukoc On How Phil Jackson Punished Power Forwards And Centers Who Shot 3-Pointers

Toni Kukoc played under Phil Jackson from 1993 to 1998 on the Chicago Bulls and he revealed that his former head coach used to put in place quite an interesting rule for big men on his team.

“When I tell this to people, they laugh because they think I’m not telling the truth,” Kukoc said. “Phil Jackson had his rules. Before every season, we got a book of rules and there it was written – if a power forward or center shot a 3-pointer (and if it was not a last-second shot) and missed it, it was a $500 fine… I was the only one among power forwards and centers who could shoot 3-pointers.”

Considering Kukoc was a solid three-point shooter, it wasn’t a surprise that he was exempt from this rule. The Croatian struggled from beyond the arc in his first two seasons under Jackson, but in his last three, he shot 37.0% from three, which was pretty good for the time.

If you look at the other bigs on the roster during that second three-peat for the Bulls, it isn’t too surprising that Jackson did not want them shooting from outside. You had the likes of Dennis Rodman, Luc Longley, and Bill Wennington in there and to say they were bad shooters would be an understatement.

Their job was to rebound, defend, and set screens for the likes of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. To their credit, they did that fairly well.

These rules by Jackson also show just how different the game was in the 1990s, compared to today. Now, if you are a big man who can’t/won’t shoot, it is a bit of a problem.

We see it with someone like Zach Edey, who has had a phenomenal college career, but scouts don’t hold him in high regard because he can’t shoot and wouldn’t be great at defending the perimeter. Had he been entering the league in the 1990s, he might have been viewed as one of the top prospects.

Toni Kukoc Called Michael Jordan The GOAT

The 55-year-old Kukoc has seen many great players in action over the years. As for who is the best, Kukoc hailed Jordan as the GOAT.

“Jordan is the best basketball player of all time. There is nothing that can be compared to him. Pippen is a great player. He did a lot of work. I’m sorry to see the state he’s in today. Steve Kerr is probably the best ‘three-pointer’ in history.

“When you don’t have anyone to pass the ball to, you pass it to Kerr and he hits a 3-pointer. What can I say about Rodman? He got angry with the opposing players when they didn’t play well enough, so after the game, he rode that exercise bike to tire himself out.

“Even Jordan needed a team to win rings, and the team needed a coach. I think only Phil Jackson could have worked with that group.”

I am not sure if Jackson was the only coach who could have worked with that group, but he certainly was an ideal fit. He knew how to manage those massive egos and had tremendous success as a result. As for Kukoc’s take on Jordan being the best, it wasn’t all that surprising considering the success they had together.

While Kukoc has a lot of respect for his former head coach and teammate, it hasn’t stopped him from being a bit critical of them. Kukoc said that Jordan and Jackson were not successful as Charlotte Hornets owner and New York Knicks president respectively and that is certainly true.

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