The Last Dance is a tremendous documentary filled with some of basketball’s all-time great players and personalities, most prominently Michael Jordan. It’s also expertly put together with terrific pacing and a keen eye for entertaining moments. What it’s not, however, is a fully accurate representation of MJ’s last season with the Bulls. It gets the gist right, but it also glosses over some key moments and doesn’t give enough shine to several key players who made significant contributions including Luc Longley.
In fact, the lack of time the documentary devotes to Luc Longley is Michael Jordan’s biggest regret about the breakout ten episode limited series. The greatest basketball player of all-time recently spoke to the Australian Story about the error and said things should have been different. Here’s a portion of his quote…
I can understand why Australia would say, ‘Well, why wouldn’t we include Luc?’ And we probably should have. And if I look back and could change anything, that’s probably what I would have changed.
The Australian center started fifty-eight regular season games and sixteen playoff games for the Bulls that year, averaging almost thirty minutes played and more than eleven points per. His seven foot plus presence also allowed the Bulls to play big, which contrasted nicely with the times they went small using the undersized Dennis Rodman as the center. Unfortunately, The Last Dance almost completely glossed over those contributions from Longley, relegating him to mostly background shots.
Luc Longley reportedly wasn’t interviewed for The Last Dance because he lives in Australia, and producers were unable to fly there for budgetary reasons. I’m sure that played a role in not showing more of his contributions, but there were also several other key players who didn’t get nearly enough shine, in my opinion, including Ron Harper. For Longley, not being featured was frustrating, but not surprisingly, he has a good attitude about the whole thing…
Why was I not in the doco? I don’t really know, to be honest. The self-deprecating Australian in me thinks it’s because I’m not that exciting. I was playing a huge role but it wasn’t one that was that sexy. There were so many beautiful, bright, shiny stars out there to focus on, that, you know, it makes sense to me that that story wasn’t about me. Makes perfect sense.
The Last Dance obviously generated a huge reaction from the general public, but it also generated pretty big reactions from the people involved. Steve Kerr spoke about being frustrated by how little some of the other players were featured, specifically Longley and Harper. Scottie Pippen was allegedly not a happy camper about how he was depicted and apparently hasn’t spoken with Michael Jordan since it aired. Even a bunch of key players on the other teams have spoken out, though many with a good sense of humor about it.
Ultimately, the truth is the truth, and documentaries are only a version of events. Those of us who lived in Chicago during the Jordan era, myself included, have very fond memories of Luc Longley. He was a good player who did all the little things that needed to be done. He deserved some more run in The Last Dance, but fortunately, he got plenty of run during those later three championship seasons, which is more important anyway.