Michael Jordan's key admission in Luc Longley documentary

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·Sports Reporter
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Australian basketball Luc Longley has spoken about how challenging Michael Jordan was as a teammate on the NBA championship winning Chicago Bulls. Pictures: ABC/Australian Story
Australian basketball Luc Longley has spoken about how challenging Michael Jordan was as a teammate on the NBA championship winning Chicago Bulls. Pictures: ABC/Australian Story

Part of the reason why Michael Jordan was so generous with his time for the two-part Australian Story documentary on Australian basketball legend Luc Longley was perhaps a sense he owed his former teammate.

Longley was infamously overlooked during production of The Last Dance, the popular series documenting Jordan's career, culminating in the last of six NBA championships he won with the Chicago Bulls.

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For the last three of those, Longley was the starting centre - with Jordan admitting to the ABC that his Aussie teammate should have featured in The Last Dance.

In the first episode of the two-part Australian Story series, Longley and Jordan described their rocky dynamic as teammates.

They acknowledged in various ways that their duelling approaches - Longley's more relaxed, team-first tendencies versus Jordan's killer, win-at-all-costs edge - were simultaneously successful and damaging.

Longley went as far to admit that despite the lifelong respect between the two, he had not liked being Jordan's teammate, fundamentally changing his personality in a way he didn't enjoy.

In part two of the series, Jordan admitted he and Longley had at times a terse relationship - but maintained it was necessary for the Bulls' success.

“Sure, there’s some good and there’s some bad but that’s all a part of life. You’re going to have friends that you have good and bad things about but we went through the trenches. We shared a lot," he said.

“We competed together and I would take him any day of the week ... If you ask me to do it all over again, there’s no way I would leave Luc Longley off my team, no way possible. Because he mattered. He had an impact on me, he helped me change as a person.

“... That story needs to be told about a person that people think is very ‘minor’ but they’re not, they’re very major when it comes to winning a championship. Those people do matter.”

Michael Jordan's admission after key Luc Longley moment

Longley, who according to Channel 9 helped facilitate the ABC's interviews with Jordan by reaching out to him personally, didn't shy away from criticising the negative aspects if Jordan's personality.

Jordan couldn't help but chuckle when told Longley had described his leadership style as 'carnivorous'.

Despite his amusement, Jordan acknowledged it was easy to understand Longley's feelings.

“I mean I can see that from his perspective, yes,” he said.

“I didn’t go in there with that mentality it’s just, my mentality was to win at all costs and to pull, push, yank, whatever, to get everybody on the same page.

Luc Longley was the starting centre for the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan returned to the NBA in 1995. (STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images)
Luc Longley was the starting centre for the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan returned to the NBA in 1995. (STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images)

“I understand it. But if I were to change my personality back then to something totally different, I wouldn’t be who I would have been, I don’t think we would have had the same successes and I think a lot of players probably wouldn’t have been the same in terms of their perspectives.

“So yeah, I can see him saying that, but I think it was needed in some respects and our success illustrates that.”

Jordan's unparalleled reputation on the court has occasionally taken a hit thanks to his stubbornness and abrasiveness as a teammate.

But as even Longley will admit, there is a certain extent to which such an attitude is required to have the level of domination over the NBA did that the Chicago Bulls had in the 1990s.

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

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