When Toronto backup center Acie Earl was told whom the Raptors
had signed on Nov. 29, he was puzzled. "John Long?" Earl said.
"I only know one John Long, the shooter, the guy I watched play
when I was eight years old. I had his basketball card. The John
The same. He's 40 now, the fourth oldest player--and the second
oldest guard, behind Hall of Famer Bob Cousy--ever to suit up in
the NBA. "Guys here are killing me about my age," Long says with
a laugh. "Hey, I'm not that old." He first played in 1978 for
Detroit (his coach: Dick Vitale) and "retired" in '91. After
barnstorming for 3 1/2 years with Magic Johnson's All-Stars, he
played last season in Argentina, averaging nearly 40 points a
Toronto executive vice president Isiah Thomas signed Long to
provide an example to the young Raptors. Long has proved he can
still play a little, too, scoring 5.8 points in 13.9 minutes per
game. On Dec. 5 his long-range jump shot with nine seconds left
beat the Bullets 82-80. "When I came back, some of the refs
hugged me," he says. "When I hit that shot, they told me later
they went through the roof."
In the Raptors' 118-74 loss at Detroit last Saturday, Long
scored more points (12) than his two nephews on the Pistons,
Grant Long (9) and Terry Mills (5). "My hair is thinner," Long
says. "I'm not as quick as I used to be. But I'm not the oldest
guy who ever tried this. George Foreman is still fighting at 48.
Nolan Ryan was pitching at 46. Not all 40-year-olds are the