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Deng puts Africa first


ALTHOUGH HE only lasted just six minutes due to injury, the first ever British basketballer to play in an NBA All-Star game made a memorable impact.

Luol Deng’s was forced off in the NBA All-Star fixture with an injury to his left-wrist but the Team GB forward could now also face a fine for breaking the game’s dress code.

The Chicago Bulls player wore a black t-shirt with an outline of the African continent on it in the pre-match introductions and he drew attention to the design when his name was announced, holding the shirt up off his chest.

If the NBA decide this was in violation of their dress code, the South Sudan born Deng, who moved to London as a refugee when he was seven, could face a sanction. He has already declared that he does not care about the implications.

“If I get fined, I'm ok. To me, what I did is worth it for me,” stated Deng explaining his desire to be a role model to the children of Africa.

“I wouldn't do something negative. I wouldn't do that at all. If you look at the t-shirt, it's not of anything. I'm not advertising anything. I just felt like being where I'm from and where I came from, it's something that I always wanted to see as a kid. Now that I'm I here I had a chance (to do that). I'm sure there's a kid out there, or a lot of kids, who really enjoyed it and made them happy to see that."

"I appreciate the fact that I'm in the position that I'm in to do so [represent Africa]. I just felt like there's only been (Hakeem) Olajuwon and Dikembe (Mutombo) and both were big men. Being a perimeter player (from Africa), it hasn't happened before. And I just felt like I didn't want the kids to just see it and just go by. I just wanted them to remember where I came from and get something out of it."

ALL-STAR: The 26-year-old in action for Chicago Bulls

Deng has had problems with his left-wrist since tearing a ligament in it during the Bulls’ win against Charlotte Bobcats at the end of January. However, he opted not to have surgery and is instead taking things on a week-by-week basis.

The 6’9” small forward concentrated on the positives of being named in the Eastern Conference team.

“For me to be selected meant a lot more to me. Being selected and recognised as an All-Star meant a lot more to me than what I was going to show or do tonight on the floor."

The West won by 152 to 149 in the Sunday (February 26) game played in Orlando and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant was named MVP.

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