Q&A with Toni Kukoc

December 9, 2005

Tonight, the Chicago Bulls will retire Scottie Pippen's #33 jersey at a halftime ceremony when they host the Los Angeles Lakers at the United Center. Bucks forward Toni Kukoc was a teammate of Pippen's for five seasons in Chicago and will be present for the jersey retirement ceremony.

Kukoc spoke with Bucks.com about Pippen, tonight's ceremony and his years with the Bulls.

Bucks.com: What's going through your mind as you think about heading to the United Center for tonight's ceremony for Scottie Pippen?

Toni Kukoc: Nostalgia, I guess? I don't know, but I think it's going to be nice to see the whole crew. At halftime they're going to have a nice ceremony for him where they show a lot of highlights on the scoreboard.

B.com: What comes to mind when you think about the years you played in Chicago?

TK: I think they're the best years in the NBA. That's what I think. We're probably talking about the best team that ever played basketball, especially if you look by our records. We went 72-10 and 69-13. Those were back-to-back years. Winning championships. The cream on the top of the pie, or whatever you want to call it.

I do see my former teammates every once in a while during the year. We play golf or maybe have dinner, but this will probably be a different feeling seeing the whole team.

B.com: What was Scottie like as a teammate?

TK: I'd say he was the best teammate you could have. He made me feel very comfortable playing on both ends of the floor. He gave a lot of help both vocally and physically. Defensively he always made me feel like I was never playing alone. He was always there to help. Offensively he was always a guy that looked for a teammate, skipped the ball at the right time. Very unselfish. Always ready to practice.

B.com: What was Pippen's best quality as a player?

TK: I was surprised that he never got the Defensive Player of the Year award. I think whomever he was guarding had a miserable time playing basketball. That and just his overall basketball game was outstanding.

B.com: Is this the first time most of the guys will be reunited? Do you think everyone will be there?

TK: I think so. But Ron Harper is an assistant coach for Detroit and I'm not sure if they play tonight. I heard Dennis (Rodman) was in town and "MJ" will be there. I don't know if Luc Longley will make it from Australia or from wherever he is. Of course, Phil (Jackson) will be there. Pax (John Paxson) is going to be there, and I'm not sure if Bill Cartwright will, as I know New Jersey plays someone tonight. It's going to be interesting!