18 year ago today, Big Luc Longley — the Aussie Bill Russell — was toiling away in the Arizona desert with the Phoenix Suns, finally away from the cold of Chicago and unburdened of carrying Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to the NBA title every year. On a balmy March evening, Big Lucien found himself suiting up next to Penny Hardaway and bleached-hair-era Jason Kidd, poking more holes in the Utah Jazz than in the plot of ‘Kangaroo Jack’, and having the FOURTH HIGHEST SCORING GAME of his stint with the Suns!
That’s right, going up against the Jazz’s Hall of Fame duo in Karl ‘the Mailman’ Malone and John ‘John’ Stockton, the 7-foot-bloody-40 Big Lucien went HAM on his way to 7-of-12 shooting from the field, and was more perfect than beetroot on a burger from the free throw line with 3 makes on 3 attempts, finishing with 17 points: his second highest scoring game of the year!
In only 24 minutes on the court, the Giant Sandgroper tore Greg Ostertag and Olden Polynice apart like they were a hotel receptionist and he was a phone-wielding Russell Crowe, adding a team-high 7 rebounds pulled down from the skies in a display more beautiful than Lowndesy fangin’ down Conrod Straight!
Not only that, the Perth Punisher delivered a block so brutal that rumour has it that it caused Utah’s Adam Keefe to give up basketball entirely, move to Calgary, start a support group and take up knitting.
Granted, Big Luc also had 3 turnovers and 4 fouls — that were undoubtedly rubbish calls from refs following the NBA’s anti-Strayan bias — but stats are for nerds, and who bloody-well cares when you’re playing the Jazz like Aussie Joe Bugner playing the fiddle!
Anyway, this would also go down as the highest scoring game for the rest of Longley’s storied NBA career — a career more storied than a pair of Dennis Rodman’s jocks — as the big fella’s knees couldn’t cope with all the greatness and championship rings weighing ‘em down. But Big Luc packed ‘er up boys like the living legend he is, and got paid while bloody well doing it!
Now he’s out there mentoring and coaching the next generation of Aussie legends, providing all the basketball knowledge and insight that only a man who carried Michael Jordan to three straight NBA titles can impart!
#ONYA Big Luc Longley!