No really, he was literally the centerpiece of the Bulls phenomenal 72-10 season. Actually, he was the starting center for most, if not all, of the three-peat Championship run. Yet somehow, he is forgotten by many when discussing that historic season and I can’t figure out why.
Longley was the first Australian ever to play in the NBA, and subsequently, the first Australian ever to win a league championship. At 7’2″ he towered over most in the league at the time and averaged 7.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in his 567 regular season game NBA career. In 2006 he was inducted into Basketball Australia’s Hall of Fame. He may also have one of the best claim-to-fames ever (besides for being a three-time NBA Champion): while sorting through his arachnid collection on the floor of his home, he was stung twice by a scorpion.
Longley had many great performances. On November 11, 1995, Longley scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds versus the SuperSonics. Matched up with the more agile Kemp, the Bulls lost that game.
During that same historic season, Longley had another 20 point game on February 22, 1996 against the Hawks. Against the SuperSonics during the ’95-’95 Playoffs, he scored 19 points on June 9. During those Playoffs, he played eight double-digit scoring games.
On November 8, 1996, Longley set his full game career-high in just the first quarter of play against the Pistons.
During his career, Longley mostly stuck to the Nike Uptempo Line — the Nike Air Uptempo and the Air Max Uptempo generally. He rocked the Air Jordan XII in a few different colorways as well as the Nike Air Max Battle Force.
In an interview with The Guardian in 2013, he discussed his entrance into the NBA:
“I found the transition very, very hard,” Longley tells the Guardian. “In college I’d been able to dominate with length, strength and height. When I got to the NBA everyone was just as big so I really had to re-develop my game, go back to the drawing board a little bit and find out where my strengths were going to lie in this new environment.”
“My young brother wrote me and he actually hit the nail on the head – I’d always played the game for fun and for the love of it and when I got to the NBA guys were playing for their livelihoods, their families, careers and reputations. It was a level of intensity I hadn’t geared up for and was reluctant to as well for some reason,” said Longley.
I urge you to read the entire interview here.
Longley played for four teams and 10 seasons and was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ quest for the ring(s). He currently assistant coaches the Australian Boomers. Next time you hear someone discussing the 72-10 season, don’t let them forget Longley!
Happy birthday to the big Aussie.
If you wanted to hear more about the 72-10 season, Nightwing2303 and Jahronmon of WearTesters.com discuss it passionately in the episode of Trash Talk below.