Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Bull Clash Brothers Pippen, Kukoc So Happy Together

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Bull Clash Brothers Pippen, Kukoc So Happy Together

Article excerpt

Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc, seemingly born to clash on court, are 2-0 - and happy - as running mates on the Chicago Bulls' front court.

And Pippen, who a few years ago blasted Kukoc as overrated, now is offering the ultimate compliment: He's comparing Kukoc to himself.

"Toni has a good sense of basketball, like me," Pippen said. "He's a player, like myself, who can take the ball and create things. Me and Toni have mutual respect for one another. People can see that me and Toni work well together. We enjoy being out there together."

Could this be the same Scottie Pippen who two years ago resented the way general manager Jerry Krause pursued Kukoc instead of improving Pippen's contract?

The same Pippen who sulked when coach Phil Jackson chose Kukoc to take the winning shot against New York in last year's playoffs?

The same Pippen who bristled when Krause gave Kukoc a six-year, $26 million contract?

The same Pippen who, as a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, held "Europe's Magic Johnson" to four points and proclaimed: "He's not as good as people said."

Sure is. Given time, Pippen has come to appreciate Toni Kukoc.

"People tried to make it seem like he was incredible, but he hadn't played against guys from the NBA yet," Pippen said. "It took time for Toni to get experience, and now Toni is doing a good job."

Kukoc didn't expect Pippen - or any other Chicago player - to embrace him when he arrived from Croatia before last season.

"Everybody wanted me to prove myself, to show why I was brought here - even the players and coaches," Kukoc said. "I knew that every time I did something wrong, they would tell me.

"I was thinking, `I'm the new guy here, trying to find my spot in the league and on the team, and I don't have to be always accepted.' I knew I'd have a hard time at first."

Kukoc averaged 10.9 points as a 25-year-old rookie reserve in 1993-94, the first season of the Post-Michael Jordan Era. Although Kukoc beat the Knicks with the shot that made Pippen pout, the Bulls failed to win their fourth consecutive NBA title. …

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