British basketball hikes insurance coverage so Deng can play

8/30/2008 - NBA Luol Deng Chicago Bulls + more

LONDON -- Luol Deng will play in Great Britain's European
Championship qualifying games after the national association bumped
up the insurance to cover his lucrative NBA contract.

Deng signed a new deal with the Chicago Bulls last month
reportedly worth up to $80 million. British Basketball had been
struggling to pay the insurance for the 23-year-old Sudanese-born
player, who moved to London as a child to escape the conflict in
his homeland.

However, the association said Saturday it had "reluctantly"
agreed to increase his coverage, meaning Deng can play against
Israel in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and against the Czech Republic in
London next Saturday.

"We see no medical reason why the NBA insurers have demanded
this new element to Luol's insurance," British Basketball
performance director Chris Spice said. "Their demand came so late
and out of the blue, we have had no choice."

Deng is Britain's biggest basketball star, and the team would
have little hope of reaching next year's Eurobasket tournament in
Poland without the forward. He is also the cornerstone of Britain's
push to have a competitive team at the 2012 London Olympics.

"We are convinced that this is the best outcome for British
Basketball, is the best use of our funds in the circumstances and
highlights our commitment to make Great Britain one of the top
basketball nations in the world by 2012," Spice said.