An official with the British National Team is accusing the Chicago Bulls of trying to coerce Luol Deng to skip the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer to take care of his injured left wrist.
Chris Spice, the performance director for British Basketball, made the claim against the Bulls after it was determined the insurance policy to cover Deng in the Olympics could exceed $400,000, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“His wrist situation will make this exorbitant premium even more expensive and we will have to make sacrifices to all our other programs if we are to make this happen," Spice told the Tribune. It is difficult, but there is only one Luol Deng and there is only one London 2012 Olympic Games."
Deng has long expressed a desire to compete in the Olympics for Team Britain, as it was the place his family settled after fleeing their native Sudan to escape the civil war there. Deng became a British citizen in 2006.
“I'm looking forward to playing in the Olympics,” said Deng to FIBA.com. “I'm so excited to take part in this competition; I've been dreaming about it since I was a young kid. It will be fantastic to play at home, in front of our own fans.”
The Bulls, however, have about $27 million reasons why they'd rather have Deng sit out the Olympics and take care of his wrist. That's the amount of money owed to him over the next two seasons. Luol's wrist needs surgery, but if he participates in the Olympics this summer, the necessary procedure to repair his injured left wrist will have to be delayed.
And while the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the Bulls from prohibiting Deng's participation, they are his employer and have a vested interest in his health. Still, Luol has maintained his intentions to compete for Team Britain this summer.
“Luol Deng is hugely committed to the British Basketball program,” said Spice. “He has maintained this stance despite recent pressure for him not to play after injuring his wrist during the highly demanding shortened NBA season. We admire and support his stance.”
However, Spice still lamented what he perceived as a lack of support from the NBA on the Deng matter.