Luc Longley is no stranger to success in the NBA. He won three consecutive championships alongside Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls during the 1990s.
From 1996 to 1998, the Bulls dominated the league. Phil Jackson’s Chicago overcame the Seattle SuperSonics and Utah Jazz for a three-peat.
Now, the Golden State Warriors are chasing the same feat this season. Led by Steve Kerr, who was a team-mate of Longley and Jordan in that iconic Bulls team, the two-time reigning champions are looking to become just the fourth team after Chicago, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers to three-peat.
Reflecting on his own experiences with the Bulls, Longley singled out Draymond Green amid Golden State’s pursuit of back-to-back-to-back triumphs.
“We actively kept it fresh and on track,” Longley told Omnisport. “I don’t think it happens in the same way that chasing your first championship happens, where everything is fresh and on track.
“I often the say the first thing for everything is more exciting, whether it’s your first kiss, glass of wine or whatever it is – you’re more turned on and excited by the first championship. By the time you get to the third one, you’re looking for other things within that to get excited by.
“I think that’s why the Warriors keep Green in that locker room, to keep things unsettled and not too comfortable. It’s easy to get comfortable. We had Dennis Rodman for that.”
The Warriors ended the regular season with a 57-25 win-loss record and the top seed in the Western Conference. Golden State needed six games to get past the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.
Golden State – boasting a star-studded roster including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson – are up against James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the conference semi-finals.
What are the challenges facing the Warriors this season as opposed to the Bulls in the ’90s?
“For us, it was age. We were getting old as a team – Michael Jordan, Dennis, Scottie [Pippen], they were all getting towards the end of their careers,” Longley said. “The challenges now are the distractions. Social media and the player engagement thing is so much more distracting than it was when I was playing.”
The Warriors have the chance to claim their fourth championship in five seasons. A mammoth feat not only for the players but head coach Kerr, who is eyeing his second three-peat.
“He would have a really clear understanding of how difficult it is,” Australian Hall of Famer Longley added. “He would’ve been working all year on keeping the guys fresh and engaged. Sometimes fresh and engaged is challenged.
“One thing that Phil did too, he had several new offensive wrinkles that people hadn’t seen in the regular season to our triangle. I think Steve would be giving them some new stuff to play out of. Probably defensively challenging guys a bit.”
Longley continued: “I know he [Kerr] will be excited. He will be pumped. Each successive one gets more difficult I think. His collection of hardware is getting ridiculous.
“The reason he is a good coach is that he is proud of his craft and he’s into it, and engaged with the team. He would have his juices properly flowing. Steve will be fully awake and engaged now.”
“He is intelligent,” Longley, who keeps in contact with Kerr, said. “He is considered. He is caring and he is also a cold-hearted b****** when he has to be. He is what you see. Years and years of success have given that a sturdy grain and he has been rewarded for that.”