At the end of last season, a lot of newspaper ink and Internet bandwidth in and around Chicago was spent focusing on Luol Deng’s wrist. He could have gotten surgery on it but instead he played through it then played for Great Britain in the London Olympics.
Now he is back in Bulls training camp, and no surgery.
So one of the first questions he was asked on media day was about the wrist. But Deng isn’t really worried about it, he told Aggrey Sam at CSNChicago.com. He’s just going to play through it, and the Bulls are good with that.
“The wrist is the wrist. It is what it is. I’m expecting to be asked about it all year, but I’ve just got to go out and play, play as hard as I can, do what I can do. Whether it’s one arm or two arms or no arms, I’m going to be the best that I can be. That’s the goal, just go out there and play as hard as I can. It felt great in the Olympics. Since I’ve been back practicing, it’s been feeling great and so far, so good.
“If it was the same as last year, I would have went ahead and did the surgery. It just kept improving. During the Olympics, it was a lot better than it was at the end of the year. The strength of it has definitely increased and I’m able to do a lot more things than I was able to do. It’s been getting better, so I’ve just got to continue with what I’ve been doing and keep doing it.”
That wrist is going to have to help carry a lot more weight for Bulls this season with Derrick Rose out for an extended time recovering from his torn ACL. But both coach Tom Thibodeau and GM Gar Forman said Deng had looked good so far at camp.
If the wrist flairs up and the Bulls struggle — both genuine possibilities — then maybe he changes his mind. But for now, the Bulls have Deng on the court and looking pretty good.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.