Something struck us as awfully sad today when we learned that Toni Kukoc is retiring from the NBA. It always makes sports fans feel old when someone who they remember coming in as a rookie ends up retiring, but somehow Kukoc hanging them up felt different, probably because he was the last guy left from those Bulls teams of the '90s. (Barring a Dickey Simpkins comeback, that is.) It feels strange to have that book finally closed entirely.
Thankfully, some of your top NBA bloggers have their eyes on history this mildly upsetting September afternoon:
• The Association: "Given that most European players tend to fade or disappear in the clutch, Kukoc was willing to step in. Along with Dirk Nowitzki I'd say that Kukoc's one of the best European players in the clutch to ever play in the NBA."
• NBA Obsessed: "His combination of size and the ability to play all positions on the court made him a versatile player and his deadly shot from downtown only made him harder to guard. To me, that young clean looking Croatian in a Bulls jersey is his lasting image."
Honestly? Any guy who was that successful in pissing off Scottie Pippen on a regular basis is OK in our book. Godspeed, Toni: May you find a place that encourages the full growth of non-Ulrich-esque facial hair.
Kukoc Set To Retire From NBA [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]