You think of Luol Deng as talented but not living up to his potential.
For the English national team, he is a savior.
And Deng has been cleared to play for England this summer, according to Britball. That drive starts Tuesday in a game against Hungary. He is hoping to help them qualify for the European Championships next summer, a run up to the 2012 Olympics in London (where England gets a spot as host nation).
“I’m glad Luol’s back,” said (team captain Drew) Sullivan. “Last summer he was around the team as much as he could and you could see how upset he was that he couldn’t play at the Eurobasket finals, which is something we’d spent two years working towards. He was devastated that he’d helped us qualify and then, unfortunately, got hurt with the Bulls and didn’t recover in time. From our perspective, we need him. We’re a much better team with him.”
He was a little late joining the team, due to Amare-like insurance issues. But he is there now.
Who else is on that England roster? Pops Mensah-Bonsu for one. Former Vanderbilt player Andrew Sullivan, and Dan Clark who plays in Europe. And from there it gets more obscure.
Deng makes that team far, far more formidable. But maybe still not good enough for the European Championships.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.