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Australian Story: Luc Longley airs Mon 2 Aug on ABC

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Australian Story is back on our screens next week with a two part special on basketballer Luc Longley.

Luc Longley was the first Australian to play in the NBA and part of the legendary Chicago Bulls team that won three consecutive championships in the late 1990s and featured in the recent Netflix series The Last Dance.

Since retiring in 2001, Luc has intentionally kept a low profile but the success of The Last Dance has generated enormous interest in him, particularly given his virtual absence from the series. Now he is ready to tell his story.

It is the story of gentle giant raised in an artistic community in Fremantle, Western Australia, who fell into basketball because he was tall rather than driven.

“I never planned for basketball to be a big deal in my life,” Longley tells Australian Story. “I stumbled into it.”

Highly coordinated and standing 7 foot 2, Longley’s natural ability took him to America where he had a successful college basketball career before being drafted to the NBA. When he was traded to the Chicago Bulls he found himself playing alongside the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan. Theirs was a complex, at times difficult, relationship.

“I was still that kid from Freo who was reshaping himself and MJ was three-time world champion, best player on the planet,” Longley says. “And we had to figure out how to be together. And that wasn’t his priority, but it was mine.”

Longley went on to win three consecutive NBA championships with the Bulls but when that line-up was disbanded he struggled.

“He just never got back to being the player that he was once he left Chicago,” Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen tells Australian Story.

He retired due to injury and turned his back on the game for many years, until an invitation to help with the Australian national basketball team rekindled his love for the game

Then last year came the release of The Last Dance and media attention so overwhelming that Longley was forced to change his phone number. Now, for the first time, Longley reveals what he thought about that series and how he felt about being omitted from it.

Producers: Caitlin Shea and Greg Hassall

Australian Story: Luc Longley airs Monday 2 Aug at 8.00pm on ABC.