When you earn millions, you seem to crave the most expensive things, and in Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng’s case, he has thoughts of buying into his first true love: Football.
The 31-year-old, who represented Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics is planning on joining a select number of NBA players, active and retired, who have a part-ownership in a football team.
LeBron James has a small ownership share in Liverpool FC and Steve Nash is a part-owner of Major League Soccer franchise, Vancouver Whitecaps. Deng, now a 12-year veteran of the league is interested in owning, or at least having a small share of his own team.
Deng, a well known Arsenal fan has been keeping a close eye on the fortunes of Arsène Wenger’s men over the course of the Premier League season, but also revealed a soft spot for one of the Gunners’ cross-town rivals, Crystal Palace.
“I grew up three minutes from the Crystal Palace stadium and when I was young on match day there was a hill where we could watch the Palace through a gap in the stadium,” Deng explained.
“Since then I’ve been a huge Crystal Palace fan – Arsenal’s my number one team, Crystal Palace is my second. I’m hoping they can stay up – I’ve always said that if I become a billionaire I’m buying Crystal Palace – it’s a dream of mine.”
Next Thursday, the NBA will showcase its talent for the seventh time at the O2 Arena in Deng’s home city of London when the Denver Nuggets face the Indiana Pacers. While the forward will not participate, he thinks that the Global Games makes basketball more noticeable to the British public.
“There’s always hope that the UK will start taking basketball more seriously,” Deng says. “The NBA is serious about it and wants to bring awareness and let the fans be a part of it.
“I had the chance to play [in London] when we played the Utah Jazz when I was with the Chicago Bulls and because I’m from London I really enjoyed it. All my teammates enjoyed the city, loved the fans and the game. When you’re from the U.S., going to the UK is an easy transition – it’s culturally very similar, especially the language and everything.”