Philadelphia 76ers centre Spencer Hawes revealed that Great Britain and Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng tried to convince him to play for the national team.
Hawes though, born in Seattle, Washington politely declined the offer.
“It was a couple of years ago and we were both in the weight room before a game chatting back and forth and he threw out a little recruitment pitch but I respectfully declined. I’m all stars and stripes,” Hawes said as the 76ers prepare for their pre-season game with Uxue Bilbao on Sunday.
On his ties with Great Britain, Hawes added: “It’s just family heritage. There is a town called Hawes a little north of Manchester I believe. I’ve got to check that out when I’m in Manchester next week and see the namesake.”
Great Britain were once again eliminated in the group stages for the third stright Eurobasket, more recently falling to Ukraine at the last hurdle on the final day of group play three weeks ago in Ljubljana. It left GB to sweat on whether they should get any more funding from sports agency UK Sport in the build-up to the Rio Olympics in 2016 and beyond.
The 7’1″ big man though recognises Britain’s vast improvement since their international debut at Eurobasket 2009 in Poland.
“One of our video coordinators last year work with them and he’s told us a lot about his summer times with them and it’s certainly a programme on the rise,” Hawes said. “Obviously Luol is a great player. Over the last few years he’s had a few issues injury wise and he’s always battled through them and played through them. You’ve got to respect a guy like that. He is a good team-mate to have.”
After the 76ers’ game in Bilbao, they fly over to Manchester to play the Oklahoma City Thunder, who today defeated Fenerbahce Ulker 95-81 in Istanbul behind Kevin Durant’s game-high 24 points.
The 76ers play the Thunder on Tuesday, October 8 at the re-named Phones 4 U Arena in Manchester [formally MEN Arena].
Photo courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images