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News » For Bulls and Deng, trip revealed plenty of positives

For Bulls and Deng, trip revealed plenty of positives

For Bulls and Deng, trip revealed plenty of positives Luol Deng was the center of attention during the Bulls ? three-day stay in London and rightfully so.

The city became his family?s adopted hometown in 1993 and Deng almost single-handedly turned Great Britain?s national team into a competitive force for the first time in history.

After the Bulls finished the trip with a 102-101 preseason victory over Utah at the O2 Arena, Deng was feeling good about the state of Basketball in Britain, his recovery from a stress fracture in his right shin, and, most of all, about his Bulls teammates.

"We?re all excited for the season," Deng told reporters after Tuesday?s contest. "I feel like we?re closer together; we?ve got great guys in the locker room. Everyone we have on the team plays a team game, which kind of helps everyone. I think every night is going to be a different person. The togetherness of the team so far is what?s been standing out. Even the rookies, they?ve been great."

One of those rookies, James Johnson, beat the Jazz by grabbing an offensive rebound and draining a 17-foot jumper over Andrei Kirilenko at the buzzer.

Johnson and Deng led the Bulls with 18 points each. Deng hit 8-of-12 shots from the field in just 25 minutes of action. He?s still planning to limit his preseason playing time because of the injury, but he believes his recovery has gone well.

"It gets a little sore. It was sore during training camp because we had two-a-days," Deng said. "Since we started practicing once a day, it still gets sore but it?s way less. I thought (against Utah), it felt a lot better than it did at Indiana. I didn?t even think about it at all."

The Bulls -Jazz game drew a full house of 18,689 and Commissioner David Stern continued to express a desire to hold a regular-season game in London. The arena hosted exhibitions the past three years.

Deng has seen a huge difference in the popularity of Basketball from when he first arrived in London as an 8-year-old.

"Growing up here, it was really tough just finding facilities and following the game," Deng said. "It was hardly on TV. I never really thought there would be an NBA game here. We always hoped there would be a game on TV. For a game to actually happen is amazing."

Stern suggested interest in this year?s visit from the NBA was higher than ever in London because of Deng?s presence.

"His athleticism and expertise and his caring for the community, he?s really quite extraordinary," Stern said. "People love to focus on him and we love to have people focus on any NBA players, but particularly him. He?s a wonderful iconic symbol for us and the game."

The Bulls will take today off to rest and recover from the flight home, then return to practice Friday at the Berto Center. They?ll face the Milwaukee Bucks in Green Bay, Wis., on Saturday, then finally make their home preseason debut Tuesday with a rematch against the Bucks.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 9, 2009


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