Sporting Heroes: Luol Deng, the Brit standing tall in the United States
Friday 25 April 2014
While American team sports’ global appeal continues to rise, the vast majority of the athletes competing at the pinnacle are Americans; but now Britain has its very own NBA superstar.
Luol Deng was born in Sudan, where his father was a politician. After the family fled to Egypt to escape the second Sudanese civil war, the Dengs were granted asylum in Britain and moved to Brixton, south London. Deng had met the former NBA player Manute Bol in Egypt and carried his new-found interest with him.
He joined Brixton Basketball Club and put together an enormously impressive junior career. At 13 he represented England in the European Junior Men’s Championships, earning the MVP award. It was apparent that he possessed an enormous talent and at 14 he moved to the United States to fulfil it.
In the same high-school age group as Lebron James, the 6ft 9in Deng was considered the No 2 prospect in America behind him. When James went straight to the NBA after high school, Deng went to college. He selected Duke University, a basketball powerhouse, and played there for just one season, posting historic scoring and rebounding statistics for a freshman.
Deng was selected seventh in the 2004 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns, who immediately traded him to the Chicago Bulls. Deng helped the Bulls to an Eastern Conference final, where they were beaten by James; but for injuries to team-mate Derrick Rose, Deng might have been an NBA champion.
In January this year, Deng was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. At 29, his best might still be to come.
In February, basketball had its British Olympic funding revoked. Deng (below) is Team GB’s one hope to get it reinstated.
Latest in Sport
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Eden Hazard exclusive interview - All is rosy in the garden of Eden
Chelsea vs Tottenham combined XI: Hugo Lloris or Thibaut Courtois? Willian or Christian Eriksen? Who makes the final cut?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Robbie Savage avoids driving ban - because he would get 'accosted' too much if he had to use public transport
Carl Frampton vs Chris Avalos; Tyson Fury vs Christian Hammer; Dmitry Chudinov vs Chris Eubank Jr - boxing on TV this weekend
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...