The first two-thirds of Luol Deng’s offseason were dedicated to the 2012 London Olympics. In his dual role – best player on Great Britain’s national team and ambassador for the sport in his adopted homeland – Deng lived his dream for a fortnight. He played through torn ligaments in his left wrist (left over from the Chicago Bulls’ grinding regular season and early playoff exit) while connecting the world with British basketball, and vice versa.
Part of this final stage of Deng’s offseason is devoted to a different sort of ambassadorship. The Bulls forward and native of South Sudan is one of seven active NBA players participating in this summer’s Basketball Without Borders Africa. Held in Johannesburg, South Africa through the weekend, this is the 10th edition of the NBA’s and FIBA’s joint basketball development and community outreach program. It is Deng’s second BWB trip; he first got involved in 2006.
One day into the camp – with features 60 young players from 26 countries – Deng could see changes from his involvement six years ago. “It used to be just for the boys. Now we have female campers,” he said. “We also are in now with the Special Olympics. You can definitely see differences. As well-organized as it was, you can see the growth and how everything runs smooth now.” (more…)