Good sport: Deng wins NBA sportsmanship award

Updated: May 3, 2007, 3:54 PM ET
Associated Press

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng won the NBA's sportsmanship award Thursday, edging Shane Battier and four other divisional winners in a vote by players.

Luol Deng
Deng

Deng received 52 first-place votes and 2,027 points -- 22 more than Battier of Houston. Utah's Derek Fisher (1,953) was third, followed by the Clippers' Elton Brand (1,935), Atlanta's Joe Johnson (1,737) and Toronto's Anthony Parker (1,611).

The award honors the player who best exemplifies ethical behavior, fair play and integrity on the court, and the winner receives the Joe Dumars Trophy -- named after the Detroit Pistons Hall of Fame guard, their president of basketball operations and the inaugural recipient.

"I haven't told my parents yet about it, but I think for them it means a lot more than any other award," Deng said. "I can win awards on the basketball court and it would mean a lot to me. But this award is on and off the court. It's something for me to give back to my parents. They will appreciate I'm being recognized for who I am."

Born in The Sudan, Deng was 5 when his family fled to Egypt after the government was overthrown. They eventually settled in England, where his parents still live. He spent his high school years at a prep school in New Jersey and went to Duke for a year before entering the NBA.

Deng is involved in numerous charities, and the league will donate $25,000 on his behalf to Pacific Garden Mission, the oldest continuously operating rescue mission in the country. It will also donate $10,000 to each of the divisional winners' chosen charities -- Toronto Raptors Foundation on Parker's behalf; the Boys and Girls Club of Little Rock, Ark., on Johnson's behalf; the Boys and Girls Club of Houston on Battier's behalf; and Fisher Fellows of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and C.A.M.P. Inc. of Peekskill, N.Y., on behalf of Brand.

In his third year, Deng enjoyed his best season, averaging 18.8 points and 7.1 rebounds, and has been even better in helping the Bulls sweep defending champion Miami in the first round. Deng averaged 26.3 points and 9.0 against the Heat. The Bulls face Detroit in the second round beginning with Game 1 on Saturday.

"He really does epitomize everything I had hoped for as a person and a basketball player," general manager John Paxson said. "I think it's one of the reasons we've gotten to the level we're at this year. I'm truly proud of him. I think the world of him as a person and as a player."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press