Michael Jordan has slammed Australian player Luc Longley for ‘riding high on three championships’ he ‘had nothing to do with’.
Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to their famous ‘three-peat’ as they won three back-to-back championships from 1991 to 1993 before briefly retiring.
After the first three-peat, Longley joined the Bulls in the 1994-95 season but was on the bench for 55 games, meaning he never got to spend much time with Jordan when he returned midway through the season.
Furious at their defeat in the 1994-95 season, 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 stands 7 feet, 2 inches tall.
Speaking on the Netflix documentary The Last Dance, which premiered last Saturday, Jordan, now 57, said he wasn’t impressed with Longley’s attitude during the pre-season training.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan (right), 57, has slammed Australian player Luc Longley (left), 51, for ‘riding high on three championships’ he didn’t have anything to do with in the Netflix documentary The Last Dance
‘Luc, 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 (pictured) said in the documentary
‘Steve (Kerr), Luc, 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.’
Following this interview, Jordan details how he once punched Kerr in the eye during a training match but doesn’t mention Longley again.
Given this hostile reception from the basketball great at the time, 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,’ Longley 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.’
Jordan, Longley and Kerr watch from the bench during an exhibition game in Paris in 1997. Given his hostile reception from the basketball great in 1995, Longley said he initially ‘didn’t like’ Jordan in his 1996 book ‘Running with the Bulls’
Jordan grabs a rebound from Longley during the playoffs against the Miami Heat in 1996. Longley said Jordan and the Bulls ultimately pushed him to become a better player after transferring over from the lower-tier Minnestota
The seven-foot Australian had minimal presence in the rest of episode eight of the Last Dance, briefly appearing in the change room (pictured) and in the background of games
But in his first interview in years on Friday, Longley, now 51, said Jordan and the Bulls ultimately pushed him to become a better player after transferring over from the lower-tier Minnestota.
‘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.’
The seven-foot Australian had minimal presence in the rest of episode eight of the Last Dance, briefly appearing in the change room and in the background of games.
Longley was promoted from the bench to a starting centre in the 1995-96 season, which the Bulls went on to win.
The Australian said winning his first NBA Championship with the Bulls was the ‘most powerful’ moment of his life other than having children.
‘Getting traded to the Bulls was the best thing that ever happened to me,’ he told The Australian.
Longley is considered to be a trailblazer for Aussie basketballers as he was the first to play in the NBA and the first to win an NBA championship.
He also won the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons with the Bulls, completing the team’s second historic three-peat in less than a decade, and nabbing himself three coveted rings in the process.
Now 51 years old, Longley lives in the coastal town of Denmark in Western Australia with his writer wife Anne Gare. He is currently assistant coach of the men’s national team
After his third championship with the Bulls, Longley went on to play with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knix before retiring from the NBA in 2001.
He partly owned the Perth Wildcats from 2000 to 2005 and has been assistant coach of the Australian men’s national basketball team, the Boomers, since 2013.
Now 51 years old, Longley lives in the coastal town of Denmark in Western Australia with his writer wife Anne Gare.
Last month, The Last Dance’s director Jason Hehir revealed there was a simple explanation for Longley’s absence in the documentary.
‘It was not due to our unwillingness to find him, or his unwillingness to participate, it strictly was a budgetary concern,’ Mr Hehir told ABC News Breakfast.
‘So I regret for our Australian audience, that Luc does’t sit down for an interview in this but his face and his presence certainly were felt.’
Given there are two more episodes of The Last Dance left, which will detail the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, there is still time for Longley to make a larger appearance.
The Last Dance is available to view on Netflix with a subscription.
Jordan and Longley guard Seattle Supersonic’s Shawn Kemp during a 1996 game. Longley said winning his first NBA Championship with the Bulls was the ‘most powerful’ moment of his life