DENG SET TO SKIP EUROBASKET
- Updated: February 15, 2013
The Londoner will underline his status as one of the best players in the world when he makes his second successive appearance in the NBA’s annual All Star Game on Sunday night in Houston.
However with a gruelling schedule over the past year, including the Olympic Games, the 27-year-old will likely travel to EuroBasket in Slovenia as a cheerleader, rather than a player.
“I’m not sure 100% if I’m playing, most likely I’m not,” Deng told MVP. “I would like to have a summer off, especially the one coming up. Last year I wanted to do the Olympics and I showed how much I wanted to do it.
“But this summer coming up, I think I’ll tone it down a little bit more. It doesn’t change whether I’ll be with the team or not. But I said that before the Olympics.”
Deng made his own intervention in the recent campaign to win funding for basketball from UK Sport when he wrote to David Cameron, asking the Prime Minister to help overturn the agency’s original decision to pull its cash.
However British Basketball’s backing is only for one year, and heavily dependent on its success this summer.
Yet even in his absence and with the retirement of former NBA centre Robert Archibald, Deng is backing a new-look GB squad to deliver results.
“We have a lot of good players in the team, to still be successful. We’re in a good position and I fully trust in the guys. Just because we have the funding doesn’t change my decision. The funding is not just for me to play. The funding is for the youngsters and expanding the game.”
Houston will see all the NBA’s leading lights gather for their annual showpiece with Deng joining Miami Heat superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in an Eastern Conference line-up that will take on the West, headed by LA Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Second time around, he knows what to expect from the event.
“I’m a lot calmer this year,” Deng said. “It’s a lot different when you know what’s coming. When we came into the media room I could see Joakim Noah’s face. He was like: ‘wow’. I’m a lot more relaxed this year.”
Spain’s Ricky Rubio has confirmed he will play at EuroBasket after missing the Olympics through injury.
Watch the NBA All Star Game on ESPN