On Saturday night, during Australia week, G’Day USA honoured one of Australia’s most internationally recognizable athletes, Lucien James Longley.
Born in Melbourne on January 19, 1969 to an equestrian mother and an architect who also was a member of the
Australian Olympic basketball team, Luc had one hell of collegiate career and a rewarding, if unremarkable professional one.
I’ve personally had a love/hate relationship with the man over his years playing basketball. When I was around 10 years old, I took a vacation to Albuquerque, New Mexico with my parents. Being the basketball fanatic I’ve always been, we went to a New Mexico Lobos game at the University of New Mexico. A 2.18 meter Luc Longley was a senior then, and starred for the Lobos during one of their best seasons in recent memory. I had no idea who he was, but the uproarious chants of “LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUC” that rose from The Pit (the University’s arena) quickly enamored me to him.
Luc was drafted into the National Basketball Association by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1991. After a couple of non-descript years in Minnesota, he was traded to the Chicago Bulls where he teamed with some guy named Michael Jordan to win three straight NBA championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998, climbing over my beloved New York Knickerbockers to get there each year.
Luc only played three more season in the league. After the Bulls won the 1998 championship, he was shipped to the Phoenix Suns, where, unfortunately, he was mostly known for having a run in with a scorpion in his home. When the Knicks decided to trade its franchise player in Patrick Ewing, Luc was one of the pieces they received in return. A year later he was forced to retire due to a lingering ankle injury.
After the September 11th attacks on New York City, Luc moved his family back to Australia. In 2009 he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and these days he’s a stay at home dad and environmentalist involved in the preservation of the Ningaloo coral reef.
You’ve had a championship caliber life Luc. We hope you enjoyed your night!