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  • When you returned to the Bulls after playing baseball there were some news guys on the

  • team, including Luc Longley. And I'm curious, what did you think about Luc at that stage?

  • I didn't really have any preconceived ideas. I mean, I knew he was on the team. I was anxious

  • to understand who my team-mates were. My mindset was to go, you know, try to get back and win.

  • You know, any time that you know, when I left in 93, I left on top in terms of winning.

  • I was coming back in 95 halfway in the season and still my mentality was about winning.

  • Now granted physically I wasn't prepared for winning at that time because I had a baseball

  • body, but ... it took me a while to understand my team-mates understand, you know, their

  • motivations. You had to understand that when I started with the Bulls, you know, it was

  • five thousand people in the stands, so, you know, it was like playing to an empty arena,

  • you know, and when these guys are coming in, the arena has been sold out for six years,

  • you know, so I wanted them to understand, you know, and Luc to understand as well as

  • Jud Buechler and Steve Kerr and all the guys that were new, where we transformed from so

  • that you can feel that energy and you can understand what it feels like playing in front

  • of the fans who for years were always believing that ahh we wait till next year, we wait till

  • next year. Well, we were the team that was on top now. I thought it was very important

  • for them to understand that that history and that dynamic about what what the Bulls actually

  • experienced and I experienced. So I felt compelled once I got to know those guys to kind of push

  • them to understand, OK, we're not in the bottom anymore, we're on top, and when you're on

  • top, everybody's coming at you. So you have to be prepared. You've got to be ready to

  • play.

  • And do you think Luc was ready. Did you think he had what it took to work with you to win

  • a championship again?

  • I didn't know. I think what would ... I think Luc can answer that a little bit better than

  • I can. I felt the need to push him. I know at that time they hadn't won. A lot of those

  • guys had never won in terms of the, you know, a world championship or something of that

  • magnitude. And so I knew it was going to take it takes some learning for them to understand

  • that. That's where my role became very vital to lead and to give them that, you know, that

  • that knowledge that they need along with Phil, obviously. Phil was, you know, the leader

  • but in terms of basketball leadership, when I say I led, I led based on, you know, physically,

  • you know, I get out there, first one there, last one to leave, work on my skill set, blah,

  • blah. You know, listen to what the coach, try to, you know, do whatever the coach is

  • asking. That was the leadership that I wanted everyone to see and then reinforce it with

  • my voice when I felt the necessary need to do so. So I felt that, you know, no, I don't

  • think Luc had the mentality of what it took to win, but I think he earned that over the

  • years that we played together. And obviously, you know, following our leadership - Phil,

  • myself, Scottie, you know, just so that he can understand what it would take and how

  • his skill set could fit.

  • So what sort of skills did he need to develop and was it skills or attitude or both?

  • I think it was both. You know, he had the skill set, you know, seven-footer, pick and

  • pop, shoot, rebound, block shots. Defensively understood exactly what to do, set great screens.

  • But the mindset of being able to do that every single night, do that against teams that were

  • more physical and teams that are less physical. It was the mindset that I felt like Luc had

  • to learn, and I think he did learn, you know, and we all had had to learn over the period

  • of our careers. And, you know, but when we were going against the teams like New York

  • Knicks, you know, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, you know, it's a certain mentality that those

  • teams are being coached at. We had to match that, if not surpass that. And I think that

  • was the growth of what Luc had to learn.

  • And Luc was the first Australian in the NBA, what did you think of his Australian-ness?

  • Laid-back. I never seen Luc mad, to be honest, and he is his personality, is that he you

  • know, every day, g'day, mate. You know, you feel that warmth coming from him and you know,

  • and that's good. You know, it's good to have that mentality and feel like, you know, you're

  • very fortunate each and every day. And you wake up, you enjoy your life. You know, you

  • live it by the moment. But there's times when you have to push yourself a little bit and

  • that, you know, you want to see that frustration. You want to see a little bit of anger. And

  • Luc did at times, you had to do a little pushing to get that. But his mentality is that, you

  • know, he just enjoys being around people. He is he is that gentle giant. You know, he's

  • always been big, you know, wherever he was growing up and being around. So it's quite

  • naturally he always wants to feel welcome and wanted to, you know, connect with someone,

  • you know, maybe a smaller person or, you know, anybody. That's a great trait to have. Also,

  • that trait has to be adjusted, especially when you're in competition, you know, because

  • you want that dominance to be shown. You want that intimidation to be shown in competition.

  • It's not a negative thing. It's always a positive thing in terms of, you know, how you utilise

  • it. But, you know, it took a while for him to get to that.

  • So he had to toughen up?

  • You had to show him a little tough love, you know, that's what I call it, tough love and,

  • you know, great. I loved him as a team-mate. You know, I think that, you know, any day

  • that I felt frustrated and angered, I can look at Luc and know that, you know what?

  • It's not that hard, it's not that, you know, this is not, you know, life or death, you

  • know, he simplifies things and his his whole mentality is to do that. And that's his personality.

  • And it's good to have people around that can do that. You know, when you have people like

  • myself who are somewhat aggressive, you know, we live in every moment, you know, we want

  • to dominate every little moment and we forget about how simple life is, how simple the moment

  • may be. This is where he was a great, you know, a great team-mate and helped me mature

  • as a person.

  • A balance to your intensity sometimes?

  • You're absolutely right, absolutely right.

  • OK, so what did you think were Luc's strengths and what did you think Luc's weaknesses were?

  • His strength was he could shoot, you know, he was very smart, good passer. Physically,

  • you know, he uses his body very well in terms to rebound and position. His weakness was

  • I would say, you know, making sure that mentality-wise to be aggressive, you know, you know, have

  • that killer instinct, you know, in that, you know, you want to dominate, you know, and

  • there's times where I had to push him on that, you know, and, you know, and he received it

  • well, I mean, you know, it wasn't as if, you know, it was a constant resistance or I felt

  • it necessary the need the necessary need to do it every time we played. No, it was you

  • know, it was a process that, you know, when you win and you learn, you apply that over

  • a period of time. And with Luc, he did. But his strong points, his athleticism, he didn't

  • have the athleticism as most bigs, but he had the smarts. You know, he he knew how to

  • position himself well. He knew he he knew how to play against someone like a Patrick

  • Ewing, who he knew was far more gifted athletically. But he was able to utilise his strength, which

  • is shooting on the perimeter post up using his left, his right hand, his physicality

  • to, you know, to at least make himself known, you know, and it was up to us to complement

  • him, you know, make him as important as a Patrick Ewing in situations where he could

  • dominate or he can actually, you know, lead us. And we did that. You know, I think Phil

  • did a good job in trying to gauge Luc's motivation that per game. Let's just say we started the

  • game and obviously our focus is to go inside and we were going to Luc early and Luc knew

  • that and if Luc felt compelled that or he felt like he was into the game, he can give

  • us that, you know you know, that that lift that we needed from that inside play. If not,

  • then, you know, we would have to go the other, you know, other routes to try to assert ourself

  • as a team.

  • Were there times that you were aware that Luc was finding some of your criticisms quite

  • tough.

  • Yeah, I felt that I mean, and you know that, look, I think it was a lot of situations where

  • people were somewhat critical in terms of the way that I perceived it. And, you know,

  • but I had a mission, you know, I wanted them to understand what it took to win, you know,

  • and winning has a price. And the thing is, is that, you know, I wanted to make sure they

  • were prepared for the worst, you know, especially in competition. And, you know, they're I'm

  • pretty sure there were times they were not happy with me. I think if you look back now,

  • I'm pretty sure they are, you know, based on how we achieved and with the successes

  • that we, you know, we were able to to overcome. And but, you know, as a leader, you know,

  • you sometimes you don't you're not going to be well liked. You're not going to be, you

  • know, but you have to pull them along, you know, because, you know, you've experienced

  • it, you understood it. The other side of that road is success. And I think, you know, the

  • gratification would be there once we get over that hill. And I felt that and I can sense

  • some of that coming from from my team-mates. But, you know, the thing is, is that we for

  • us to be successful, someone had to do that, you know, especially from a leadership world.

  • Did you sometimes wish that you didn't have to be like that?

  • Yes. Yes, only because I felt like, you know, everybody, you would you would assume that

  • everybody had the same mentality that I had and that every day, you're the first one in

  • the gym last when they leave, you know, you live within the moment. You know, you strive

  • to be strive for perfection each and every time you step on the basketball court. But

  • unfortunately, everybody don't have that same mentality. And if they did, then makes my

  • job so much easier. It's like looking at, you know, a mirror of 11 or 12 people, you

  • know, and unfortunately, the world is not made that way. And, you know, sometimes you

  • have to push, pull or do whatever you need to to get over that hill, you know, and the

  • gratification is always going to be in the work and once the work is done and you can

  • see where the achievement has has been met, you know. So, yeah, I wish, you know, I could

  • have, you know, laid back and enjoyed it as much as everybody else. But that not that

  • didn't guarantee us success. You know. That didn't say we're going to win, you know. You

  • know, so I had to do what I had to do.

  • Over the years that you played together, did your opinion of Luc change? Did you enjoy

  • playing together by the end of those years and come to value what he gave to the team?

  • I did. I valued it and I also understood how to get it, get it out of him. You know, how

  • to challenge him, you know, as a team-mate, you know, and the thing is and I think Luc

  • understood, you know, he understood that, you know, if he if he mixed, he missed that

  • box out then he's going to hear, you know, obviously some verbal, you know, words coming

  • from me, from, you know. The expectations were so totally different. Once he proved

  • that he could do it, the task is to do it every single night, you know, that's the thing,

  • you know, and that's why I felt like I knew you was capable. We all felt he was capable.

  • But you have to be capable every single night for us to maintain success. So I pushed him.

  • Obviously, I did. And verbally, you know, I would challenge him in certain situations

  • where I felt like you know, Luc, you just you're not you're not doing what we expect

  • you to do, you know? And I would welcome that to for my, you know, if they see that I was

  • doing something that they pretty much expected and I was taking shortcuts, which wasn't too

  • often, I'm pretty sure that I was open. You know, Phil would criticise me, you know, other

  • team-mates would criticise me. And, you know, the purpose of improving and the purpose of

  • being a good team-mate and the purpose of being a good team is we all had to look in

  • the mirror and understand, OK, what can I do better to make this team better? You know,

  • and we also have to be willing to accept constructive criticism. Nothing personally, you know, we

  • hung out. We have fun. You know, we would joke around, you know, it's nothing personal.

  • But in competition, when you're trying to, you know, exceed and be successful, we have

  • to hold each other accountable. That's what team-mates do. And and it's nothing really

  • personal about it.

  • Luc admits that consistency was his big issue, and he that he struggled with it and you struggled

  • with the fact that he wasn't consistent enough.

  • Yeah, it was times like that. And I give you a good example. He may not like this story

  • in 98 we're playing the Utah Jazz. Did he ever tell you this? Did he tell you this story?

  • What story is this going to be?

  • Utah Jazz, Scottie Pippen was out, you know, and we knew we just played Utah in the finals

  • the year before. So every game we play against Utah is a message. You want to send a message.

  • So he is ... I go to Luc at the beginning of the game, I say, look Luc, we have to we

  • got you have to establish yourself inside. You have to dominate. We're going to come

  • to you early. You're going to really got to set the tone for us because we don't have

  • Scottie. It's me and Dennis and you. So he understood that. He knew the importance of

  • that. The first quarter ends, Luc has 12 points, four blocks and four rebounds. And I go to

  • Luc, that's how you fucking play, man. You do that. We dominate. We up by 16, we're up

  • at 16. We're killing them in their building. At the end of the game. Luc had 12 points,

  • four rebounds and four blocks. It's like he sufficed the anticipation or what we want

  • him to do in the first quarter, but he forgot there's three other quarters. We're winning

  • by 16. We lose by 15. So now my frustration is like, you know, it's boiling and I'm and

  • I go into the locker room and I'm sitting down, I'm just trying to figure out how do

  • we lose this game? We seem like we had a good rhythm the first quarter, blah, blah, blah.

  • And and Luc's sitting across from me. And once again, Luc has this demeanour that, you

  • know, he doesn't really show ... like I'm like I'm I'm like boiling over here, but I'm

  • really trying to hold it in because it's just one game. But I understood the significance

  • of the game because we're playing against Utah. You want to make sure that we send a

  • message. And Luc says, it's OK, mate. It's OK. And the way that he said it made it seem

  • like he didn't really receive it the way that I was receiving it, and I just chuckled then

  • and, you know, and I just looked at Luc and I said, you know what Luc? That is the last

  • time I'm going to give you a compliment in the middle of the game, because you don't

  • receive compliments well, in the sense that you feel like you just you stop and you don't

  • really pursue. And I said it, you know, from, you know, chuckling because I was really frustrated

  • as opposed to yelling. I want him to understand. Look, man, you don't have to just, you know,

  • you have to keep playing. You don't play just for one quarter, just so that now I can look

  • at you and say you're doing a great job, blah, blah, blah. And I own I get it. But we still

  • have to play the other three, three quarters of the game. And it told me more about Luc

  • in a sense that. You know, You've got to keep pushing him. You've got to keep pushing. You

  • got to keep pushing. You can't let them get comfortable because you get too comfortable.

  • Then he relaxes, you know, and we need him to keep being aggressive, you know? And from

  • that point on, I didn't do it in a way. I don't think I did it in a way to to point,

  • point or jab, jab or punch, punch. It was almost like, OK, I got I got to keep encouraging

  • him. I got to keep encourage him even when he's doing well. I'm going to keep encouraging

  • because he needs that, you know, that reinforcement. You know, that was the thing I learnt about

  • Luc. And once I learnt that, then I understood how our relationship was going to be established.

  • And, you know, a hug is probably more than a yell. You know, you know, a you know, a

  • pat on the back is probably more than a punch, you know, that type of thing. And, you know,

  • once I was able to understand that as a leader, then we can always have a certain dialogue.

  • OK, mate, you know, I can I can, you know, go back and forth with you. But also, I know

  • how to get you to this point that we need you to be consistent. Phil was good at it.

  • I learnt it from Phil. Phil understood that with Dennis. He understood that with me. He

  • understood that with Scottie, Tony, Steve, all of. And that was a strong point about

  • who Phil Jackson was. I had to learn that through him, you know, and then when I got

  • back, obviously, I had different personalities that I hadn't been with. So I had to understand

  • who these people were so that I could have a relationship, you know, the Steve Kerr and

  • the punch and you know, Tony Kucoc from the 92, you know, dream team, blah, blah, blah.

  • Once we understood how those dynamics work, the communication aspect was much simpler.

  • So you obviously taught Luc a lot. Did Luc teach you anything?

  • Yes.

  • You mentioned to me a little bit then that you realised that you had to kind of meet

  • the person where they were at.

  • Yes.

  • Was there anything else that Luc taught you?

  • No, I think. I mean, his his calm demeanour and his acceptance for all different types

  • of people is an unbelievable trait, you know, and I was able to learn and watch and analyse

  • how he built his