This week’s entry…Luc Longley (1992-2001)
The great Lucien James Longley was a big inspiration to me as a young Bulls fan living in a Chicago suburb as I worked on my own rugged white man post game. Luc shared the court with legends Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr, while playing for coaching guru Phil Jackson. It was easy to get lost in the shuffle. But the big man from Australia was integral to the Bulls success on the defensive end, and as a cog in the Triangle offense.
After being drafted by the Timberwolves #7 overall (and becoming the first Australian in the NBA, paving the way for Dante Exum), Longley came to Chicago in a trade for the current voice of the Bulls, Stacey King, who can be heard in all his glory in the video below.
Longley became the team’s starting center, won three NBA titles and averaged career highs of 11 points and 6 boards in the Bulls’ transcendent 1997-98 season. The 7’2″ monster was slow of foot but demanded a large berth in the post and was an underrated passer that could dish to his more well-known teammates cutting to the lane. Longley really created his legend in Chicago via his sharp Aussie wit. A particularly poignant example: after separating his shoulder body surfing with teammate Jud Buechler – who may have a future in this column – he claimed the injury was sustained while fighting a shark, who Longley said “was bigger than me – and better looking.” Longley missed two months, which I’m sure went over well with Jordan.
Post-Bulls, Longley’s career playing for the Suns and Knicks was decidedly less illustrious, highlighted by being stung twice by a scorpion (once on the ass) in his home in Phoenix while organizing his CD collection. Ahh the 90s, those halcyon days of compact discs. It was a simpler time.
I leave you with this video evidence of Luc Longley telling MJ and Pip “I got this” (not verbally, Luc lets his play do the talking) and putting the Bulls on his back in this glorious 16-point first quarter in Detroit in 1996. The future Hall of Famers could only stand aside and watch Lucien’s torrent of post game footwork and swift bucket-getting. Note the capable left hand, yeoman’s work on the offensive boards, slow but effective ball fakes and fundamentals at the line. “How’s Detroit going to stop Longley?” How, indeed.