Throughout the course of the 2011-12 NBA season, Luol Deng showed fans just how tough he is. After suffering a torn ligament in his left wrist in January, Deng decided he would fight through it. He decided to not undergo surgery and play through the pain.
Although it was obvious at times how painful Deng’s wrist was, he never quit. He kept on playing while fighting through the agony, but now that the Bulls’ season has ended, it is time to look at the future.
Deng can still have surgery performed on the torn ligament, but he still has to make that decision, and with the Olympics coming up, a decision will not be made regarding the situation anytime in the near future.
“I’ve got to see how my wrist feels right now, going into the Olympics,” said Deng. “I’ll make the decision, whether if my wrist is good enough I don’t need the surgery, or if I’ll need it. I haven’t really ruled out not getting surgery or getting it. I just haven’t made that decision. I just know I’ve got the Olympics ahead of me. Since I was a kid growing up, it’s something I always wanted an opportunity to be apart of. The fact that it’s in my hometown that I grew up in a country that gave me opportunity to be there, I’m looking forward to it.”
This decision, or lack of a decision, by Deng has received criticism because of how it can affect the 2012-13 season for the Bulls. If Deng ends up receiving surgery after the Olympics, he could miss some time for Chicago because of the recovery process. The Bulls will already be without Derrick Rose for possibly all of that season. Losing Deng would be another big loss for them.
He is also receiving criticism for choosing to play for Great Britain, as London hosts the Olympics this summer, because while it may affect the Bulls negatively, Deng makes his money by playing for the Bulls. Yet Deng has every right to want to play in the Olympics for Great Britain. It not for the country, who knows if Deng would even be a professional basketball player.
“What people don’t understand, when [my family was] in Egypt, we were refugees,” Deng mentioned. “My family and I were homeless. For five years, out of all the countries in the world that my father was contacting, the only one that took us in was England. So how do I not participate [in the Olympics]? If I don’t play for them, knowing that I had the opportunity to, explain to me, how am I supposed to live with that the rest of my life?”
Living in Great Britain changed Deng’s life for the better. The least he could do to pay back the country is represent them by playing for the men’s national basketball team this summer.
“[Deng is] a bit of a hero here,” stated Zoe Jewell, editor of the Brixton Blog. “It would be a real shame if he can’t play, but I suppose it’s not life or death.”
While it may be possible to not need surgery following the Olympic Games, it is also possible he may. Despite this and what impact it has on the Bulls next season, people must realize how selfless Deng was for Chicago this past season. He sacrificed his health by playing for the Bulls with an injured wrist. Now, Deng just wants to do right by his country and do what he has done for Chicago: bring them success.