A resurfaced interview with Australian basketball star Luc Longley has shed light on his relationship with Michael Jordan.
Longley, now 51, was not interviewed for hit documentary series The Last Dance, which followed Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ successful run during the 1990s.
In the interview, Longley said Jordan was always on his ‘back’ and ‘gave everyone a hard time’.
‘Put it this way. I saw as much of Michael as I wanted to see of Michael,’ Longley told Hoops Capital Podcast in December.
‘Let me tell you, he was always on my back that bloke. I was learning and Michael was teaching, but we very quickly figured out a way to play together and it wasn’t too bad.’
Luc Longley has shed light on his relationship with NBA legend Michael Jordan during their time playing together with the Chicago Bulls. Longley and Jordan are pictured together in Bulls colours in October 1997
It follows the memoirs of the Bulls’ decorated coach Phil Jackson shedding light on a heated locker room argument when Jordan urged Longley to ‘make yourself better’.
In his appearance on the podcast though, Longley also revealed one of his more positive exchanges with the NBA legend.
‘I will share a story. Michael obviously gave everyone a hard time, expecting a lot,’ Longley said.
‘We were in Detroit and it was mid-season – second championship year. I went out in the first half and had 19 points. I think I had 12 points in the first quarter – I was unstoppable.
Despite not being interviewed for the documentary series, Longley (pictured in action with Jordan in 1997) said in a resurfaced interview from last year Jordan was always on his ‘back’ and ‘gave everyone a hard time’
‘Got into the locker room at half time and Michael’s all over me, ‘If you play like that, we’re going to win another championship, you’re the man, I’m going to get you ball.'”
Longley said though that after the encouraging words he got into foul trouble and didn’t score another point.
‘Michael in the locker room after the game said, “I’m never ever going to say anything good to you ever again.”
‘He thought he was responsible for pumping me up and making me play bad.’
Longley (pictured during 2020 NBL final) has kept a low profile since retiring in 2001 except for stints with the Boomers coaching staff
A locker room spat between NBA legend Michael Jordan and Australian teammate Luc Longley (pictured together with the Chicago Bulls in 1998) was previously detailed by their coach Phil Jackson
Jackson’s season diary meanwhile detailed a heated spat between Jordan and Longley as the team struggled during a patchy start to their title defence.
The coach wrote that the dispute began after he criticised Longley during a video session, and Jordan chimed in.
Jackson wrote that Longley was hurt, and responded by saying: ‘It’s easy to criticise’, prompting assistant coach Tex Winter to question his attitude.
Chicago Bulls championship winning coach Phil Jackson (pictured at New Yorker Festival in 2014) detailed the argument in a diary he kept during the 1997-98 NBA season
‘A shrug is a big deal for Luc; he is a loveable guy. But he says to Tex, “I wasn’t talking about the coaching staff. Michael is the one being critical. I just want to let him know it’s easy to criticise”,’ Jackson wrote.
‘And then Michael says, “The only thing that upsets me is when we lose. I think you should resolve to make yourself better the next time. Change”.
‘The room was charged. It was sombre. Michael was sombre.’
Longley, who remains the only Australian with three NBA championships, gave his first interview in years on Friday where he said the team and Jordan pushed him to be better.
‘I worked really hard on defending. On strength. On speed. My application to it all. I had to become a student of the game,’ he told The Australian.
‘You had MJ (Michael Jordan), of course, but it wasn’t the norm. What I had to figure out was how to be a full-time professional athlete.’
Longley kept a low profile after retiring in 2001 except for stints with the Australian Boomers coaching staff during recent Olympic Games.
Australian basketball great Andrew Gaze described Longley as one of the most widely-liked personalities in the game. who enjoys the quiet life.
‘I don’t think I know of anyone that doesn’t like Luc Longley,’ he told foxsports.com.au.
Gaze said Longley had anticipated the extra attention The Last Dance would create.
‘He changed his phone number because he didn’t want to be bothered with that stuff,’ he said.
‘He lives out in his farm in the middle of nowhere. That’s just the way he was. He didn’t seek out the limelight.’
MICHAEL JORDAN SLAMS LUC LONGLEY ON THE LAST DANCE
Michael Jordan has revealed how Australian player Luc Longley made a terrible first impression on him by ‘riding high’ on his first three NBA Championship wins – which the Australian had nothing do with.
Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to their famous ‘three-peat’ as they won three back-to-back NBA Championships from 1991 to 1993, before he briefly retired from basketball.
Jordan returned to the Bulls midway through the 1994-95 season, and was furious when his team were dumped out of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Orlando Magic.
Michael was met with an almost entirely new roster of Chicago Bulls players at the start of the 1995-96 season, including Aussie giant Luc, who had been on the bench for most of the previous campaign.
Speaking on the Netflix documentary The Last Dance, Jordan, now 57, said he wasn’t impressed with Longley’s attitude during pre-season training that year.
‘Steve (Kerr), Luc (Longley), all those guys, they come in riding high on the three championships that we won in ’91 and ’92, and they had no f**king, you know, anything to do with it,’ Jordan said in the documentary.
‘But yet now they play for the Bulls and they… Nah dude, we were sh*t when I got there and we can elevate to being a championship-quality team.
‘There’s certain standards that you have to live by. You don’t come pussy footing around, you don’t come in joking and kidding around. You gotta come in ready to play.’
Jordan also explained how he once punched Kerr in the eye during a training match, but doesn’t mention Longley again.
Longley said he initially ‘didn’t like’ Jordan in his 1996 book ‘Running with the Bulls’.
‘I’d have to say after he came back, I really didn’t like the guy,’ the 7ft 2ins player wrote.
‘I found him difficult to be around and he and I obviously didn’t see eye-to-eye. We were at each other’s throats in practice and … that was a case of frustration from both of us, mostly from him.’