Sporting Heroes: Luol Deng, the Brit standing tall in the US
Saturday 26 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 is Team GB’s one hope to get it reinstated.
Latest in Sport
The muddy truth of the Christmas Truce game
Alexis Sanchez video: Turns out the Arsenal forward is brilliant at playing the piano too
Premier League: Chelsea vs West Ham match preview
Sir Alex Ferguson on Jose Mourinho: 'He's good looking, speaks five languages, wins everything - it's unfair'
Documentary recalling Crazy Gang's 'thuggery' has Dave Bassett up in arms
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 5 New route to Mars could make manned mission much cheaper and easier
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...