British basketball hikes insurance coverage so Deng can play

Updated: August 30, 2008, 10:12 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press