LUC LONGLEY: A Footnote in NBA History
|Longley won 3 titles in Chicago.
On September 27, 2001 the greatest basketball
player ever announced he was coming back for the second time. His return is the subject of much debate. It dominated the headlines.
That player, of course, is Michael Jordan. On that same date one of the players that most benefited from Jordan's first comeback
retired. His retirement did not generate much discussion. It received minimal media coverage. That player is Luc Longley.
No, Luc Longley will not be enshrined in the Basketball
Hall of Fame, nor does he deserve a glorious send off. He did, however, prove one thing - sometimes nice guys do finish first.
A high school student in the early 90s, I got a chance to know a young Luc Longley during his rookie season with the
Timberwolves. He was the teams' first round draft pick (7th Overall) in the 1991 Draft. Since the Wolves drafted a center,
Felton Spencer, a year earlier Luc's selection was not popular with the fans. When Longley's hold out lasted into the beginning
of the season his popularity was damaged further.
Once he signed with the team all of the boos began
to fade. It wasn't his play that won them over, it was his down-to-earth personality and 'no worries' attitude that made him
a fan favorite. The boos turned to 'Luuuuuucs.'
I got to know Luc after drawing a portrait and giving it to him. After
the game he offered to take a my friend, Jason, and I back to the lockeroom and give us some shoes. The security guard wouldn't
allow us in, but Luc quickly returned with a pair of size 15.5 Nikes and a warm up shirt for each of us. A friendship was
born. Luc supplied us with free tickets for the rest of the year, and even took us out for dinner a couple times. We even
stopped by his loft apartment in Minneapolis' trendy warehouse district to shoot some pool.
Luc is a kind, generous
man that always seems to be smiling and doesn't take himself too seriously. He seems to really enjoy life and is grateful
for all of the blessings he recieved. A perspective that is quite refreshing in athletics today.
After Luc was dealt to the Bulls for Stacey King
in spring of 1994, he became much more difficult to get in touch with. We did, however, meet him at the hotel when the Bulls
came to town - he would invite us into his room and chat. Our dicussions mainly centered around Jason and I asking questions
about the Bulls and Micheal Jordan. He always anwered them all politely and always asked what we were up to.
that sticks out most in my mind about those encounters is when Luc would open the hotel room door and his 7'2" 265 pound body
would block out any view of the room. This could be intimidating, until you saw the huge smile on his face.
15, 1997 Jason and I headed to Chicago to attend a Bulls - Suns game. Luc, of course, got us the tickets. We sat in the 15th
row behind the basket in the first deck of the United Center. The Bulls routed the Suns that night, we had the time of our
There is no doubt that Luc Longley has lived a charmed life. He grew up in a wealthy family in Australia, he
came to the States' to go to college in New Mexico where he met his beautiful wife, Kelly. He was a lottery pick in the NBA
Draft and then traded to the most popular team in sports history where he won three NBA titles. He played with Micheal Jordan.
He has represented his country in the Olympics three times (1988, 92, 00). He is 32 years old, retired, worth millions, owns
land in three continents, and has three beautiful children. Yes Luc Longley has had a charmed life, but don't think for one
minute that he doesn't know that.
Good luck Luc.
Editors note: During Luc Longley's career he
played for 4 NBA teams - the Timberwolves (91-94), the Bulls (94-98), the Phoenix Suns (98-00), and the New York Knicks (00-01).
He played in 567 games over 10 seasons, averaging 7.2 points and 4.9 rebounds a game. His best season was 97-98 when he scored
11.4 points and grabbed 5.9 rebounds a game.
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