Toni Kukoc missed his first child's birth to play for Croatia in 1992 Olympics

2022-09-25 11:15

Toni Kukoc's wife Renata was pregnant with their firstborn during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but the player decided to continue competing in the tournament and missed the birth of his first child. He called before, during, and after the match against Germany but was later cursed out by his wife.

Credit: AP - Scanpix
Credit AP - Scanpix

Toni Kukoc is a Chicago Bulls and Croatia basketball legend, known for spectacular performances on the court. However, this time he shared an important moment in his life that happened off the court.

Kukoc participated as a guest in the Trento Sports Festival this week where he told a story about his experience at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

"I know my wife is going to get mad at me... She was actually pregnant with our first son and he was born the next day when we had a game against Germany," Kukoc started the story.

Toni Kukoc

Toni  Kukoc
Position: SF
Age: 54
Height: 211 cm
Weight: 107 kg
Birth place: Split, Croatia

Kukoc's met his current wife Renata when he was still in high school and they have been happily married since 1986.

"She was in a hospital, our son was supposed to be born, and I was asking whether I should go home or should I play," he recalled talking to his teammates. "Everybody was like 'What are you going to do when you get there? That's not important.'

Now when you say that you're going to play and not going to be with your firstborn, they're going to shoot you but back then it was actually really important for the country to be there and play the games," Kukoc explained. "I'm going to apologize, it was more important."

It was the first major international tournament for Croatia after declaring independence from Yugoslavia. The team boasted two Croatian basketball legends in Drazen Petrovic and Dino Radja, while Kukoc was an up-and-coming NBA prospect drafted in 1990 but left to develop in Europe.

Despite the fact he chose to play for his home country instead of witnessing the birth of his first child, Kukoc made sure to be updated on the situation.

"It was hard to get on the phone, obviously. He was born on the day of the game against Germany. I called before the game, at halftime, and after the game," Kukoc continued. "Then two hours later my wife's brother called and said 'You have a son', so obviously I was happy, we had a party and everything."

"I got her on the phone and she was crying, saying 'You were not here, you were at the stupid Olympics' but everything worked out in the end," the legend laughed.

Croatia won the game against Germany 99-78, while Kukoc played the entire 40 minutes without being substituted once. The forward scored 25 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists.

The national team went on to place second, losing to the Dream Team in the final of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The firstborn son was named Marin. The Kukoc family also has a daughter named Stela (b. 1998).

Full Toni Kukoc's story (video by La Gazzetta dello Sport with Italian transcription):



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