The life and extraordinary career of retired NBA champion Luc Longley will get the close-up treatment for a new, four-part documentary series.
Luc Longley: Foundations explores the Western Australian giant’s central role in the Chicago Bulls’ second “three-peat,” a golden era for the franchise and the sport of basketball during which he played alongside the greatest of them all, Michael Jordan, and established the-then benchmark for wins in the regular season.
Featuring a mix of archive clips and fresh interviews, the NBA production revisits the center’s childhood, and his journey, which saw him become the first — and, for many years, the only — Australian in the Association.
And, of course, Luc shares his memories of Jordan and the “bittersweet” final championship.
In the first episode, seen by Rolling Stone Australia, Longley takes for a trip down memory lane, to the old courts where he honed his jump shot, and recounts the first stop in his U.S. experience, a stint with the University of New Mexico, where he would develop into a standout and earn his shot at the pros.
The door was held open by fellow Sandgroper and Boomers teammate Andrew Vlahov, who would make his own way into the U.S. college system with Stanford.
“I was late,” he says of his workout in front of head coach Gary Colson. “I’d forgotten my shoes because I’d been at the beach.”
As basketballers like to say, you can’t teach height. And Longley, a raw 7’2,” had it. “It was really just luck. Right place, right time,” he says of his recruitment.
And on his entry to the big stage, 1991 draft night, when the struggling expansion club Minnesota Timberwolves selected Longley with the seventh overall pick, “it seems like a lifetime ago,” he says. “That’s a bad haircut too,” he remarks, as he streams a clip from a tablet. “I suppose we liked bad haircuts back then. I’ve got one now,” he says with a laugh.
On Jordan, an athlete who, despite retiring from the sport for a second time in the early 2000s, remains one of the highest-profile, and top-earning sportspeople on the planet, Longley has rare insights.
“I remember cigars in the back of the bus, I remember long trench coats and fast cars, I remember his laugh, he’s got a wicked laugh,” Longley recounts. And he remembers a baller with an acute “level of predatory instinct” on the hardwood.
Foundations is the latest look at the easy-going sportsman who enjoyed a cult following during those glory days in Chicago, and remains the only Australian to win multiple NBA titles.
The story of the Bulls and that final, golden run was told in the pandemic-era Netflix hit The Last Dance, a series that inexplicably overlooked Longley’s contribution to the team (he was the fourth-leading scorer in that final championship team with 11.4 points per game; finished second behind the mighty Dennis Rodman in the rebound category with a handy 5.9 boards; and a team-leading 1.1 blocks per game).
🇦🇺 A trailblazer of Australian basketball, Luc Longley reached the summit of the NBA with the @chicagobulls.
— NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) August 1, 2023
The ABC shone a light on Longley’s achievements with the two-part Australian Story, completing the set and filling in the Longley-sized gap in The Last Dance.
Since it first aired in 2021, One Giant Leap has clocked more than seven million views, making in the most popular edition of the long-running Australian Story.
Off the back of the ABC doc, Longley embarked on speaking tour, My Story, presented by fellow retired Aussie NBA baller Chris Anstey.
Foundations coincides with the 25th anniversary of that final NBA title, and airs as the Australian Boomers gather in Cairns for a training camp ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Watch Foundations from Wednesday, Aug. 2 at NBA.com and the NBA app.
From WA to the NBA!
Luc Longley's pioneering journey opened the floodgates for Australian basketball.
— NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) August 2, 2023