By Luke Hatfield
Former NBA player Brian Scalabrine, a.k.a White Mamba, has backed Luol Deng to climb to new heights following the GB star’s second consecutive all-star selection last month.
Scalabrine, a former teammate of Deng, praised the Bulls small forward in a conference call with the European media during the week.
“I know Luol is a good player and a good person seeing all the stuff he does in the community,” said Scalabrine.”But what makes him really special is just how hard he plays and for how long he can play for. Him averaging 45 minutes each night and playing at the level at which he plays shows he has a good combination of being able to pace himself as well as taking on the defensive challenge every night.”
Deng, who is averaging just over 16 points and 6.5 rebounds in 39 minutes per game this season, was a key discussion point, with White Mamba pointing toward his well known defensive abilities.
“Luol loves to go up against the best player and shut them down on the defensive end and that is a very special gift in the NBA. A lot of people are afraid of competition but Luol is definitely not afraid to take that challenge, especially during the years I played with him.
“I think he’s a deserving all-star and look forward to seeing how much he does improve and become a staple name with Tom Thibodeau as his coach.”
Looking ahead to the match-up against the resurgent Lakers later today, Scalabrine knows Deng will have his hands full with Kobe, but thinks he is up to the challenge:
“Luol forces guys into taking the shots he wants them to take, he’ll make Kobe shoot a lot of contested two point shots, he won’t get deep to the basket where he’ll cause the defense to collapse and he’ll do a good job at closing out on Kobe from three point range.
“I think he’s one of the most intelligent defenders in making offensive players do what he wants them to do, and he does this throughout entire games and the entire season. That’s what makes him so impressive to watch, the way he takes the challenge defensively.”
And is there any chance we could be seeing Scalabrine back on a court anytime soon?
“Doc (Rivers) told me that if you go into broadcasting and then go back to playing and back and forth that nobody would take me seriously. I do want to play don’t get me wrong, who wouldn’t want to play in the NBA for another year?
“But I think he was right about focusing on what I’m doing now as a broadcaster.”
Live #NBAonSky on Sunday sees Boston Celtics @ Oklahoma City Thunder at 5pm and Luol Deng’s Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Lakers at 7.30pm on Sky Sports 3HD
Image Credit: NBAE/Getty Images