Skip to content

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

Jul 31, 2013, 4:24 PM EST

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 NBA.com 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.

Latest Posts
  1. One time can’t miss prospect Renardo Sidney trying to make comeback, reach NBA

    Jan 29, 2015, 8:30 AM EST

    Mississippi State v Baylor Getty Images

    Sidney is the poster child for the can’t miss prospect that missed.

  2. Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: Is this rock bottom for Oklahoma City?

    Jan 29, 2015, 1:29 AM EST

    Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook AP

    The Sixers, Knicks and Timberwolves win on the same day? Isn’t that one of the signs of the apocalypse?

  3. Hornets’ Kemba Walker has successful knee surgery, expected to miss a minimum of 6 weeks

    Jan 29, 2015, 12:01 AM EST

    New Orleans Pelicans v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The good news is that Walker may return in as little as six weeks, which means Charlotte’s playoff chances should remain intact.

  4. George Gervin on Klay Thompson’s 37-point quarter: ‘I don’t feel he broke my record’

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:15 PM EST

    NBA All-Star Jam Session 2014 Getty Images

    The Hall of Famer held the previous record with 33 points in a period, but did so before the three-point line was implemented.

  5. NBA says Matt Barnes’ $25K fine had nothing to do with Suns owner Robert Sarver

    Jan 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST

    Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    Barnes immediately played the victim card after receiving the fine, but the NBA (and the video) say otherwise.

  6. Phil Jackson denies illegally deflating basketballs while playing for the Knicks

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:50 PM EST

    Phil Jackson, James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company AP

    “Softer but not illegal,” Jackson attempted to clarify.

  7. LeBron James out Wednesday vs. Blazers with wrist injury

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Cleveland is just 1-8 without LeBron in the lineup this season.

  8. Kobe Bryant expected to be ready for start of 2015-16 season after undergoing successful shoulder surgery

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:37 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bryant will miss the remainder of the current season, and is expected to be sidelined for nine months.

  9. J.R. Smith says he’s playing better in Cleveland because there’s less partying

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    One may have to work a little harder to find the late night parties in Cleveland.

  10. Bucks sign Jorge Gutierrez to 10-day contract

    Jan 28, 2015, 5:30 PM EST

    Jason Kidd AP

    Larry Sanders’ suspension allows Milwaukee to add 16th player

  11. Tayshaun Prince: “Obviously I want to be in a winning situation”

    Jan 28, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    He is likely bought out if the Celtics can’t find a trade partner.

  12. Nets doctor expects Mirza Teletovic to make full recovery

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:55 PM EST

    Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Teletovic being released from hospital today

  13. Phil Jackson once admitted championship Knicks deflated balls

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:17 PM EST

    Jackson AP

    Jackson said breaking rule gave New York an edge due to team’s style of play

  14. Kevin Durant out against Knicks

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:42 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Thunder remain heavy favorites

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (7117)
  2. H. Whiteside (6853)
  3. R. Rubio (6772)
  4. C. Anthony (6758)
  5. K. Martin (6596)
  1. D. Howard (6571)
  2. N. Batum (6359)
  3. K. Walker (6135)
  4. T. Jones (5809)
  5. D. Wade (5472)