Australian Story: Aug 9

On Monday’s Australian Story Part 2 of former international basketball star Luc Longley concludes.

Last week’s episode showed how a gentle giant from Fremantle, WA, found himself playing alongside Michael Jordan in the mighty Chicago Bulls.

Part two examines Luc’s relationships with his teammates and the frenzy surrounding the team as they won three consecutive NBA championships.

When the team was disbanded following the 1998 championship win, Longley was unable to replicate the highs of his Chicago years and injury forced his early retirement from the game.

“The end of my career really felt like a fizz after those high years in Chicago,” he tells Australian Story. “I just felt embarrassed. I just didn’t I didn’t I didn’t feel good about ending my career at all.”

Returning to Australia, he struggled to adjust to life outside professional sport. “It was really hard to put down that athlete’s mind, to stop criticising myself, to stop looking for my own weaknesses.”

His marriage broke down, he turned his back on basketball and he struggled to find a purpose in life.

After more than a decade away from basketball, an invitation to work with the national team, the Boomers, rekindled his love for the game. Then last year, the documentary series The Last Dance launched on Netflix and suddenly the world was talking about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls again.

It was a bittersweet moment for Longley who was omitted from the series, despite his key role in the team. He was inundated with requests to comment from around the world but kept his counsel. “I ended up changing my phone number because it was just overwhelming,” Longley says.

Now, for the first time, Longley, Jordan and other teammates from the Chicago Bulls address Luc’s absence from the series and assess his legacy.

In addition to Longley and his family, episode two includes revealing interviews with former teammates Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Steve Kerr, coach Phil Jackson, current Boomer Aron Baynes, friend and writer Tim Winton and brother-in-law and comedian Ben Elton.

Producers: Caitlin Shea and Greg Hassall

Monday August 9 at 8pm on ABC.