Luol Deng returned to action last night in Chicago Bulls’ 113-90 victory at the Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 21 points.
To Chicago, it was a sigh of relief. To Great Britain fans, it was likewise. Deng also added nine rebounds to his statline, as the forward played 41 minutes.
Though it was highly doubtful that Deng’s wrist injury was so serious that his place at the London Olympics was in jeopardy, it still worried Great Britain fans, who want the strongest team possible to be on the floor at the Basketball Arena in England’s capital. That includes Ben Gordon, who the GB fans are rapidly losing patience with due to the Detroit Pistons guard failing to commit.
Deng’s mere presence was all Chicago wanted when they walked into Milwaukee’s Bradley Centre.
“He makes the game easy,” Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said of Deng. “He makes everybody comfortable out there. It feels good when we have all our leaders out there.”
Deng averaged 25 points in five Eurobasket games last summer, he missed Great Britain’s debut Eurobasket in Poland in 2009 due to injury and on first hearing the injury, sustained on January 21st against Charlotte, GB fans were posting get well wishes to the Sudan-born forward and were worried that if it was serious, would he miss London 2012?
It took Luol just under three weeks to come back into the action but he hasn’t recovered 100% fully yet.
“I felt it (and) I’m going to feel it,” Deng said. “As the game goes on, I forgot about it. I really was cautious at the start of the game. As the game went on, just playing basketball, I didn’t really think about it until I fell (in the fourth quarter).”
While there was concern, Deng iced the wrist for many minutes after the game and was told by doctors that he couldn’t make the injury any more severe by playing.
“He got there and did everything,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Deng.
The men’s tournament begins on July 29th with the women’s event starting a day earlier. Great Britain are set to play the United States of America in a pre-Olympic friendly in Manchester on July 18th (women) and 19th (men).