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More concerns for the Bulls and Luol Deng as the situation in South Sudan worsens - Apr 27, 2012

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Luol Deng
It has been a difficult roller coaster of a season for the Chicago Bulls and Luol Deng (6'9''-F-85, agency: Interperformances, college: Duke) this season so far. Injuries and a compressed schedule has proven to tax the team to the limits, the team has responded and played better than expected given the circumstances.

Luol Deng has experienced a similar roller coaster ride himself, from the thrill of leading England to the Olympics this summer, joined by fellow NBA players Ben Gordon and B.J. Mullens , to a serious wrist injury that threatened to curtail his season in the beginning, being named an NBA All-star to now trying to win his first NBA championship and dispatching the rival Heat in the playoffs (as an expected matchup seems likely).

None of that compares to the situation he and his family is facing in South Sudan. From first becoming a refugee and moving to England as a young child and then onto the US for high school basketball, then college and the NBA, Luol has seen a lot in the world from his experiences moving around the globe. He admitted it was a big relief last year when his family was able to return to South Sudan and the country was granted independence. He admitted it was a big relief knowing that his family was at home and happy for the first time in a long time.

Now the situation is devolving and border fighting is threatening to ignite an all-out war between the former united country which is now bordering countries that share and compete for oil resources. The rhetoric and previous experiences between these former countrymen guarantee that if there is war it will be bloody and brutal.

The concern this situation raises is similar to what happened when Yugoslavia was breaking up in the 1990's. Many NBA players of that generation from the former Yugoslavia have admitted the situation at home proved to be a tremendous distraction for them and their fellow former countrymen. You can't help but wonder if the situation is the same for Luol as he fights through a torn ligament in his wrist and trying to win that elusive first NBA title. The pain in his wrist can't compare to the burden he may have to carry in his heart while he awaits to see what happens in his former homeland, were his family live today.

For the Bulls, the season of distraction may have added the hardest one yet to overcome, as Luol is the glue that has kept the Bulls together all season long. The engine that drives the team (Derrick Rose) has missed a large portion of this taxing season Luol has been key in keeping the team together this season.   

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