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Luc Longley is finally telling his story after ‘miserable’ end to his decorated NBA career

Mary Raleigh
03/08/2023

A core memory of my childhood as it relates to basketball is watching and rooting for the Chicago Bulls with my dad in the back half of their 1990s run of titles.Luc Longley reflects on Bulls after miserable end to NBA career

Michael Jordan was the key driving force in that fandom, which effectively ended with his retirement and the dismantling of the team in 1998. But before his exit, I had learned to appreciate every player who had a role in winning those championships. I knew the names of everyone on the roster and kept up with their careers after they left the Bulls.

So, imagine my surprise when I saw the story on ESPN today about how Luc Longley couldn’t appreciate those days the same way.

If you’re too young to remember Longley, he’s the most decorated NBA player from Australia and was the starting center for the Bulls’ final three championships — though you might have missed him in ESPN’s The Last Dance documentary because he wasn’t featured much.Luc Longley doco, Australian Story, Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, The Last  Dance, NBA news

His career went downhill after ‘98, starting with a trade to the Phoenix Suns up until his last season with the New York Knicks in 2000. As he explained in the profile by Olgun Uluc, those later years soured the good feelings he had from Chicago so much that he kept his rings in a safe out of sight.

“Candidly, the ending of my career was a scripted nightmare,” Longley said. “I had a miserable end of my NBA career. I had an ankle that was degenerating, and I had a couple of bad years in Phoenix. As it was exploding, I was in New York not able to really train. Coming out of Chicago, where it had been such a basketball utopia sort of a situation where we’re winning… to have my body break down at the same time, and not be able to play well. … I hated it; I was really sad about it.”Save The Last Dance for me - ABC News

Longley was embarrassed by the end of his career, and man, that sucks. He played 10 years at the highest level and won three titles on the most popular team of all time. That’s something to be proud of, which brings us back to The Last Dance.

Longley’s omission from the documentary apparently created an uproar from people wondering why he wasn’t in it, and that noise was enough to remind Longley how much people cared, particularly in his home country. It brought him back out of the shadows.NBA news: My 'love letter' to Luc Longley, by Chris Anstey | CODE Sports

The following year, ABC produced a story on Longley’s rise to the NBA, and now, NBA.com has a documentary out today focusing on Longley and the Bulls’ second three-peat through his eyes. I haven’t watched it yet, but I can’t wait to dive into more content around a team that meant a lot to me.

It sounds like I’m not the only one.

“I had one young man tell me stories about how he watched it with his dad, and that’s how he remembers his dad. That’s how they connected,” Longley said. “Then, you have someone else with their baby named ‘Pippen’. It’s just really quite wild how connected people still are to that era of basketball. I underestimated it.”

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