Skip to content

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 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. Cavaliers sign second-round pick Joe Harris

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:00 AM EDT

    Coastal Carolina v Virginia Coastal Carolina v Virginia

    As Cavaliers position themselves for Kevin Love trade, now was the time to sign No. 33 pick

  2. Report: Grizzlies to hire Jeff Bzdelik as assistant coach

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:00 AM EDT

    ACC Basketball Tournament - First Round ACC Basketball Tournament - First Round

    Bzdelik, who most recently coached Wake Forest, previously served as Nuggets head coach

  3. Justin Bieber and Kevin Durant share brunch (photo)

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Justin Bieber Justin Bieber

    Bieber wearing a Nets hat, so you know what that means…

  4. Cavaliers trade with Jazz, gain pieces for Kevin Love deal

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    Kevin Love, Jeremy Evans Kevin Love, Jeremy Evans

    Utah reportedly trades John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy to Cleveland for Carrick Felix, second-round pick and $1 million

  5. Clippers CEO: If Sterling remains owner then Doc Rivers, players, sponsors all ready to bolt

    Jul 22, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT

    Sterling will be removed as Clippers owner one way or another because he is toxic to the organization right now.

  6. Bojan Bogdanovic officially becomes member of Brooklyn Nets. Finally.

    Jul 22, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

    JSF Nanterre v Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Getty Images

    He’s going to get some of Paul Pierce’s minutes.

  7. Isaiah Austin says NBA has offered him a job once he finishes degree

    Jul 22, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    Adam Silver does the classy thing. Again.

  8. Agent spins Evan Turner could have gotten $10 million a year if he’d stayed in Philly. Nope.

    Jul 22, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    Evan Turner is now a reclamation project — if he wants to get paid he has to become more efficient.

  9. Report: Cavaliers trying to acquire other players to put in Kevin Love trade

    Jul 22, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    It means the Timberwolves want to send Kevin Martin out in the Love deal, Cavs trying to make that happen.

  10. Report: Cavaliers to sign Andrew Wiggins as early as Wednesday

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Once signed, he can’t be traded for 30 days … to the Timberwolves, for example.

  11. Report: Bulls making push to trade for Kevin Love

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    Kevin Love

    Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler would reportedly be sent to Minnesota.

  12. Report: NBA warned stars against participating in clinics in the Philippines

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Blake Griffin, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Damian Liillard among players who would face fines if they participated in a planned exhibition in Manila.

  13. Wizards will have new alternate uniform for 2014-15 season (PHOTO)

    Jul 22, 2014, 12:27 PM EDT

    Martell Webster; John Wall

    Wizards take a more subtle approach than some of the others we’ve seen.

  14. USA Basketball names 13 NBA players to 2014 Select Team

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:49 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Rookies Doug McDermott and Marcus Smart make the cut to train with the National Team in Vegas.

  15. Sasha Vujacic has been working out with Blake Griffin, eyes NBA return this season

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:13 AM EDT

    Vujacic_Sasha

    Vujacic is known for his time with the Lakers, and hasn’t played meaningful minutes since 2011.

Featured video

Stephenson goes elsewhere for his future
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4345)
  2. A. Wiggins (3275)
  3. L. James (3263)
  4. E. Bledsoe (3051)
  5. R. Allen (2824)
  1. K. Bryant (2815)
  2. C. Boozer (2802)
  3. L. Stephenson (2736)
  4. D. Rose (2658)
  5. K. Marshall (2334)