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Luol Deng talks about life-threatening illness that kept him out of playoffs

Jul 31, 2013, 4:24 PM EDT

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat Getty Images

If I were Luol Deng, I would have been pissed off.

Deng had gotten sick, had to have a spinal tap to test for meningitis, and the tap went bad causing a serious, life-threatening illness that he could not play through. The Bulls listed him as sick with the flu (which Joakim Noah was playing through). Guys don’t miss multiple playoff games with the flu. Deng took to twitter to correct the misperception.

Deng spoke with about his recent trip to Africa to run some basketball camps, but part of the conversation was about how last season ended for Deng. And how he had to look at bigger issues that basketball.

“The end of the season was disappointing. I worked hard all season, played in the All-Star, and wanted to take the team as far as possible in the playoffs. But then, when I got sick, I think that we could have handled the situation better. Obviously there are some things that you can’t handle. You can’t really handle getting sick, being taken to the ER or going to the hospital. I got the spinal tap and that’s where it went all wrong. My body didn’t react well to the spinal tap, I had some serious side effects that not only didn’t allow me to play basketball, but really put my life in danger.

“It’s something that I wouldn’t want anyone to go through, but when I went through it, I think that basketball became second – especially that because what I went through health wise, my family was very worried. I never want to experience something like that again.”

Basketball should be second; in the same way your job should not be the most important thing in your life. Work matters, but there should be family and friends, human relationships that matter more. If not, you’re doing it wrong.

I hope Deng is healthy next season. The same for Noah, Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and the rest of the Chicago Bulls — I want to see what a healthy, rested Bulls team can do in the playoffs against the Heat (and Pacers). Part of that would be Tom Thibodeau backing off the gas a little bit with the minutes, and part of it is luck — like not having a spinal tap go horribly wrong.

  1. nflcinbengals - Jul 31, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Glad your doing well Deng, Bulls nation need you!!!

  2. saint1997 - Jul 31, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    He’s a warrior no matter what anyone says

    • @itsChanMann - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:46 PM

      does somebody have to die for the Bulls to make a move to get some offense?!

  3. chiadam - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    I’d like to see a healthy Bulls team in the playoffs, too. Too bad Thibodeau will run his team into the ground by January.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      Thibs might learn. He’s still pretty new to head coaching. Spoelstra had no clue how to handle his rotations in his first couple seasons… but then he made one of the all time great lineup adjustments in the 2012 playoffs and started winning championships. I believe Thibs will figure it out. He’s a great coach otherwise.

      • skinsfanwill - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:37 AM

        Spoelstra still can’t figure it out during a game. He can only go back and watch film and make an adjustment for the next game. He has to be the worst in game adjustment coach I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’m a Miami fan.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        @skinsfanwill That’s true; Spoelstra has definitely given away some games by failing to adjust to the opponent’s winning strategy. Fortunately for Spo and the Heat, the playoffs are all about next game adjustments and they’ve done that well. Honestly, I was picturing a centerless lineup as soon as this roster came together in 2010. But I won’t pretend like I really know better than an NBA coach.

        It’s funny to think about now, but Spoelstra had his career saved by LeBron in Game 6 of the 2012 EC Finals… and now we’re likely to remember him as a very capable coach.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      It isn’t just Thibs…

      I mean the Bulls have a GM, owners etc…

      I’m not saying they should call Thibs out in public but they have plenty of chances to whisper in his ear for him to lower the mins of some of the guys and then to do it a little bit more forcefully if he doesn’t.

      Since the mins are still high, it stands to reason that those above Thibs are OK with it too since it’s happened several yrs in a row now…

      I mean, why would other pro teams not look at the Spurs from afar, it isn’t as if they’ve had success or anything…

      Thibs is smart, a good coach so I don’t understand this.

  4. htownred34 - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    This team looks amazing if they stay healthy and Drose returns to himself, hopefully Thibs doesn’t play them 48 minutes a night…

  5. antistratfordian - Jul 31, 2013 at 5:50 PM


    • jhuck92 - Jul 31, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      Yeah, he looked really scared when they snapped that 27-game streak

  6. fraudguy - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    He’s lucky he wasn’t the drummer.

  7. nflcinbengals - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    Bulls Nation

  8. Blackhawks5xchamps - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Haha Spoelstra…a good coach…. haha. Lucky little twerp.

  9. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Imagine how bad it would have been if instead of a life threatening illness, he had knee that was 100% cleared for action. I mean who knows how long Deng would have been out if he’d been in perfect health.

  10. dirtydavis - Jul 31, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Bulls are a joke! Go Heat!!!

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:38 PM

      You scared of the Bulls, bro?

  11. jzone954 - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Even as a heat fan I like him a lot. To GOD be glory my man , happy to see your still here and it wasn’t an even serious issue that went further.👍

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:38 PM

      Your comment is proof that not all Heat fans are lowlife scum.

  12. aldavis4president - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    What’s a heat fan?

    • 91devinhester23 - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      something about fair weather

  13. antaresrex - Aug 1, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    I will never understand how Deng was ever considered available to play once he ended up in the hospital. As a Bulls fan, Deng has earned far better from the organization than he got. I remain disappointed in the organization for doing him like that.

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