LONDON – Britain’s basketball chiefs have vowed to cover the cost of Luol Deng’s participation in the Olympics amid concerns over the high cost insurance for the Chicago Bulls star.
Deng has been nursing a wrist injury for the closing months of the NBA season, a pre-existing condition which means his lucrative $27-million-dollar contract is not covered by the league’s insurance during the Olympics.
It means British Basketball is likely to have to find around £300,000 pounds to insure Deng for the games this summer, according to some reports, an enormous amount for the relatively cash-strapped governing body.
British Basketball has already in the past paid additional insurance to cover an old back injury sustained by Deng, but cash for the new premium will have to be found by diverting resources from other programs, officials said.
“Luol Deng is hugely committed to the British Basketball program and he has maintained this stance, despite recent pressure for him not to play after injuring his wrist during the highly-demanding shortened NBA season,” British Basketball performance director Chris Spice said.
“We admire and support his stance. Luol is a true professional and manages his body extremely well, as shown by the high amount of minutes he was able to play for his club after sustaining the injury in January this year.”
“We pride ourselves on having an expert medical team for all our players and he will receive the best possible care when he is with us. Our world-leading staff are now widely known and accepted in the greater basketball community and we have worked very hard to build this reputation over the last six years.”
“The insurance to cover Luol is always expensive due to his high value, and due to the back exclusion placed on him by the NBA’s insurers some years ago.”
“Our medical expert opinion remains that his back is no worse than others in the NBA but we have had to continue to cover this as we are contracted to do.”
“Unfortunately, we have had no support from the NBA regarding this issue which remains a constant disappointment.”
“His wrist situation will make this exorbitant premium even more expensive and we will have to make sacrifices to all our other programmes if we are to make this happen. It is difficult, but there is only one Luol Deng and there is only one London 2012 Olympic Games.”
“In basketball terms we are a small and emerging nation with not a lot of resources but we have huge pride and great ambition.”
Deng, 27, was born in Sudan but moved to London as a youngster from Egypt after his family were granted political asylum.
Deng has said he feels duty-bound to represent Britain in the Olympics because of the country’s willingness to provide a refuge for his family.
“I’m going to play in the Olympics. What people don’t understand, when we were in Egypt, we were refugees,” he told ESPN recently.
“My family and I were homeless. For five years, out of all of the countries in the world that my father was contacting, the only one that took us in was England. So how do I not participate (in the Olympics)?
“If I don’t play for them, knowing that I had the opportunity to, explain to me, how am I supposed to live with that for the rest of my life?”