Luc Longley was the first Australian to play in the NBA. The 7’2 giant never made an All-Star, and was barely an above-the-level center at all, as some basketball fans say.
And yet, Longley has accomplished a lot, by not only playing alongside arguably the best basketball player ever, Michael Jordan, but also winning three straight NBA titles along the way.
A discussion on Reddit regarding Longley was just as the title suggests: “was he any good”? Here’s what people said on Longley:
– He was pretty much the most average center you can get.
– …he looked like a stereotypical nobody center from that era
– Did what he had to do. Played his role in the triangle. Not an all star by any means, but got the job done.
– When a team has MJ and Scottie, the role players dont have to stand out in anyway, they just have to not make mistakes, play hard on D, and convert the occasional dime. Luc Longley did those things, while MJ and Scottie took care of the rest.
– He hit his free throws, he could make a jump shot so the lane wasn’t always really crowded, and he wasn’t a total disaster around the basket.
– …he was nothing super special. Just a role player who fitted the role in Chicago well.
So as it is, Longley was far from an All-Star player, but did what he had to do. Longley himself, by the way, agrees with that.
“I was probably suitably-placed in that picture, I think, right up the back,” Longley says. “[Coach] Phil Jackson used to tell me to think of myself as Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones drummer. He’d say ‘Just keep the beat. Don’t try to be the lead singer’.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 2015).
“”I guess I’m just a realist about how great I was or wasn’t. I was pretty much just a role-playing big guy who landed in the right place at the right time. I did some things well, some things poorly,” said Longley.
“Luc was the guy with the big body but also the biggest and warmest heart,” Bulls’ former coach Phil Jackson said in 2012. “He was always ready for a ‘G’day mate’ or a ‘Good on ya’ when someone did something good. Luc was the one that threw a steak on the barbie and invited his mates over. He was a unifier.”
Longley by the way has a great explanation why the fans loved the Chicago Bulls team.
“I guess it’s just that people across America really loved our team. There was Michael, Dennis, Phil. There was Toni [Kukoc] from Croatia, Scottie – the second greatest player ever – Steve Kerr, me the Australian guy. We had interesting characters, we ran an interesting game, we had a variety and a balance. It was bloody cool. It really was a phenomenon.”
Longley averaged his career high 11.4 ppg and 5.9 rpg for the Bulls during the 1997-98 NBA season. Overall, he played 261 games for the Bulls (started in 196), averaging 8.9 ppg and 5.3 rpg.
Longley played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Bulls, Phoenix Suns and the NY Knicks during his 10 seasons in the NBA. He hold career averages of 7.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, appearing in total of 567 NBA season games (started in 362).
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