Michael Jordan Told Baseball Teammates From Bathroom Toni Kukoc Would Hit Playoff Game-Winner vs. Knicks After Scottie Pippen Refused To Go In: ‘I Predicted The Whole Scenario’

Michael Jordan retired from the NBA after guiding the Chicago Bulls to the 1993 championship over the Phoenix Suns.

NBA, Bulls, Knicks, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc

Scottie Pippen was the best player and leader of the Bulls during the 1993-94 season. That was the same campaign Toni Kukoc came to Chicago from Europe to make his Bulls debut.

Behind Pippen and Kukoc, the Bulls had a successful 1993-94 regular season, going 55-27. However, Pippen performed a controversial act in the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks, forcing Kukoc to take a seismic shot, which didn’t surprise Jordan.

New York won the first two games of the series, so Chicago was in a must-win situation in Game 3. With 1.8 seconds left in regulation, Knicks star Patrick Ewing tied Game 3 at 102. Bulls head coach Phil Jackson called a timeout and Pippen assumed he would get the final shot since he was one of the top players in the NBA. 

However, Jackson called Kukoc’s number instead and Pippen was furious, so much so that he refused to go into the game.

Jordan, who was in Orlando getting ready for a baseball game with the Birmingham Barons, was in the bathroom when someone outside yelled what was going on. In classic Jordan fashion, the NBA icon didn’t panic because he knew his former team well.

Even though he wasn’t around the 1993-94 Bulls squad, Jordan watched them from afar and knew Kukoc would deliver in the clutch.

In Melissa Isaacson’s book “Transition Game: An Inside Look at Life With the Chicago Bulls,” Jordan disclosed that he predicted Kukoc’s game-winner against the Knicks in 1994 (h/t Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein).

“I told them, ‘You don’t have to tell me. Kukoc is going to take the shot, and they’re going to win.’ I predicted the whole scenario,” Jordan said. “One thing I did see in Kukoc was that he was the only guy out there with the confidence to take the game-winning shot. He didn’t worry about the pros and cons. He felt, ‘If I miss it, so what?’ He had that confidence. And to take those shots, that’s how you’ve got to think.”

Kukoc hit a contested jumper over Anthony Mason at the buzzer to give the Bulls a 104-102 victory. However, while the Chicago players were happy, the situation with Pippen was impossible to ignore.

Bulls big man Bill Cartwright addressed Pippen quitting on the team in the postgame locker room, with both players crying. Jordan called Jackson the following day and Jackson shared what Jordan said to him in Episode 7 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” docuseries.

Jackson said Jordan told him, “I don’t know if Scottie’s ever gonna live this down.”

Jordan briefly addressed the Pippen incident in the episode by saying, “It’s always gonna come back to haunt him at some point in some conversation. Pip knows better than that.”

Pippen apologized to his teammates and played well the rest of the Bulls-Knicks series. However, New York won in seven games.

Jordan returned to the Bulls in 1995 and helped Chicago win championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998 before retiring for a second time. MJ and Pippen finished their storied careers with six titles and went undefeated in the Finals.

Jordan, Pippen, Kukoc and Jackson are in the Hall of Fame. The foursome will always be linked even though Jordan and Pippen are no longer on speaking terms. 

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