It’s enough to make you say, “Wait a Deng minute!” Somehow the story got out (and spread) during Game 6 between the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets that forward Luol Deng was not playing in the game because he had the flu. To make bad matters worse, when Coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about Deng following the game, he stated that Deng was suffering from “flu-like symptoms.”
As a result, some fans began tweeting Deng mean and nasty messages, berating him for not playing through his flu when his teammates needed him. They reminded him that some of his teammates played although they had the flu.
When Deng received these messages, he became irate. He became the proverbial raging bull, so to speak. He was actually upset that people would think that he would miss a game because of the flu.
He disclosed that he had been taken to the ER of a local hospital on Wednesday where he was given a spinal tap to determine whether he had viral meningitis. He tweeted that the spinal tap had given him the worst headache that he’d ever had and that he was weaker than he’d ever been.
On Friday, Deng was back in the hospital and he tweeted this to his followers:
“I’ve played a lot of games w the flu in my career. Now I’m back in the ER where I may have to spend the night. I want my teammates and Bulls fans to know I would NEVER miss a game because of the flu. Yesterday (Thursday) I was unable to walk or even get out of bed. I made it to the UC and was sent home. This morning (Friday) my symptoms worsened. If I’m medically cleared I will fly to NY to be with my team and try to win Game 7.”
One can only wonder where the negative tweeters were over the last two years when Deng played more minutes per game than any other player in the league. Where were they when he played for more than a year with an injured wrist?
One also has to wonder why the Chicago Bulls organization, and especially Coach Thibodeau, would keep this information and the severity of his condition under wraps. Understandably, there’s an amount of gamesmanship that goes into the decision to disclose or not to disclose some things in the interest of not giving the opposing team the upper hand. However, Deng’s situation didn’t warrant any gamesmanship since he couldn’t be a part of the game.
Luol Deng was up front and forthcoming about having to undergo a procedure which had heavily impaired his ability to function, as was evidenced in his hesitant gait upon entering the United Center before Thursday’s Game 6.
Kudos to Deng for being open and direct. The jury is still out on those who had received correct information about Deng’s condition but withheld it, putting a good guy in a bad light.