I love Kobe and have always done so. That said, I had to watch the 2016 NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Cavs rather than watch the Lakers play. I made the conscious decision not to go, because I did not want to sit through another Finals of which I know nothing. I am not an expert on these Warriors, so I wanted to know what the consensus was. Was the hatred that permeated the entire season deserved? Do the Warriors have the most impressive roster in NBA history? What were the Warriors really thinking?
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Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all-time. He’s 5’9, or “6 feet” not counting his high-tops, and he was known for his physical dominance, speed, and overall skill. He was a quiet superstar then, though, and he was even more of a loner when he got the attention of the media.
If you haven’t heard, Longley, Luc was cut out of Michael Jordan’s documentary series The Last Dance. Many members of the 1996–98 Chicago Bulls championship teams were featured in the series, which was published in 2020. Longley, a 7-foot-2 center from Australia, was not one of them.
Longley, Luc: One Giant Leap premiered on Australian television in late July 2021, with part two airing on August 7, 2021. Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson, and others connected with the Bulls during The Last Dance period were interviewed, but the emphasis was on Longley, an Australian native.
In his debut NBA game, Luc Longley created history.
When the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Luc Longley with the seventh overall selection in the 1991 NBA Draft, it was a momentous moment. Longley was the first Australian to play in the NBA, despite the fact that Australian players are now commonplace in the league. He was drafted by an expansion club in its third season, and he spent the first two-plus seasons of his career losing a lot.
Minnesota went 15–67 in Longley’s first season and improved (technically) to 19–63 in his second season. At the trade deadline in 1994, the Wolves packaged Longley with a second-round selection and sent him to the Bulls for Stacey King.
Even without Serbian center Dragan Tarla’s one disappointing season in 2000–01, the Bulls won the deal by a landslide, despite Longley’s lack of stardom in Chicago.
Scottie Pippen, the Bulls’ resident superstar, struck up a friendship with Longley. Michael Jordan announced his retirement before the start of the season. Longley initially saw the playoffs in 1994, but the mood shifted drastically late in the following season.
Michael Jordan’s comeback
Shawn Kemp of the Seattle Supersonics drives to the basket against Michael Jordan (L) of the Chicago Bulls and Luc Longley of the Chicago Bulls during Game 6 of the 1996 NBA Finals at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. ALLSPORT/Jonathan Daniel
Luc Longley came off the bench behind veteran Will Perdue in 1994–95. Michael Jordan returned from his 18-month sabbatical in March 1995. Jordan reclaimed control of the locker room, the practice field, games, and everyone’s clothing selections almost immediately (OK, maybe not that last one).
Longley had to adapt to the new surroundings, which was significantly different. On an Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary, he discussed this.
“We needed to find out how to be together, and that was my priority, not his. I owe a debt of gratitude to Michael Jordan for teaching me how to play great basketball. For making up for my flaws with his brilliance.”
During the documentary, Jordan told a tale about Longley that didn’t portray him in a good light. Longley, on the other hand, made his own disclosure regarding their connection.
“You don’t have to like a guy to join his team, care about him, and play basketball with him. I didn’t like for Michael Jordan, and I felt he was tough and excessively harsh on his teammates, as well as on himself. It was OK with me that I didn’t like being around him. It didn’t bother MJ, and it didn’t bother me.
“At the end of the day, we found a way to coexist and appreciate each other on the court, which was cool.”
Jordan was a one-of-a-kind player. Longley wasn’t the first Australian to play in the NBA, but he did have a 10-year career in which he won three rings.
In the United States, Luc Longley did not become a celebrity straight away.
Luc Longley came to the University of New Mexico in 1987 with a huge physique and a lot of promise, but he wasn’t ready for prime time. Longley was a backup as a freshman, but he started his last three seasons, averaging 18.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
The Lobos reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in more than a decade during Longley’s senior year. This marked the conclusion of a long period of rehabilitation for the New Mexico program, which had been rocked by a scandal in the late 1970s.
Longley spent ten seasons in the NBA with four different clubs. Before retiring in September 2001, he played for the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks in addition to the Timberwolves and Bulls. In a sign-and-trade with the Suns, Chicago received three players and the draft choice that landed them Ron Artest (later known as Metta World Peace and Metta Sandiford-Artest).
Longley was then traded to the Knicks as part of the four-team, 12-player deal that sent Patrick Ewing to the Seattle SuperSonics.
He averaged 11.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game on Chicago’s last championship squad, both career highs. He averaged 7.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game throughout his career. And, although Luc Longley may not have loved Michael Jordan personally, he values being a part of the champion’s last run.
Basketball Reference and SRCBB provided the statistics.
Michael Jordan reportedly regrets leaving Luc Longley out of “The Last Dance,” saying, “That’s probably what I would have changed.”
Michael Jordan’s reputation wasn’t always so untarnished. Before his NBA career, he was an unapologetic brat who frequently was the cause of friction within the Chicago Bulls organization. This was a man who, as former teammate Kevin Pritchard told the Washington Post in 1998, routinely “would not listen to our coaching staff, would not listen to the people who were supposed to be giving him feedback. My teammates would say to me, ‘We don’t want to play with him. We don’t respect him. He doesn’t listen.’”. Read more about nba players wearing jordans and let us know what you think.
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