- National Teams
Luol Deng has played down the pressure of replacing LeBron James in Miami, and is excited for the opportunity with his new side.
The Great Britain forward joined the Miami Heat in July after four-time MVP James left to return home with Cleveland and Deng is excited about the upcoming challenge.
“Whatever you do there’s always pressure,” he said, when speaking at the opening of his new DENG Academy in Brixton on Tuesday. “The only way to eliminate that is to just really work hard and you can’t go into it thinking I’m jumping in someone else’s shoes, I’ve just got to bring what I can do and see how that adds to the mix.
“Obviously you lose a player like LeBron James, it’s gonna take a lot of effort to fill in but at the same time, I’m joining a team with players that are used to winning, a programme that’s been winning, guys that are committed to winning, and a staff that’s done it.
“It’s really a season with a lot of unanswered questions and I have an opportunity to go out there and play hard and see what we can do as a team so I’m really excited about that.”
Deng signed a 2-year-deal worth a reported $20m. Last season, he was traded to Cleveland ending a decade long stay in the Windy City with Chicago so is no stranger to new surroundings.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I played on one team for 10 years so when I moved to Cleveland last year it was a new challenge for me, being in a new system and a new city and everything and it happened all of a sudden.
“I had a great time in Cleveland, but committing to Miami, I’m really excited. It will be a great city to be in, the fans are into it and I’m going to a team, that obviously have been to the final 4 years in a row.”
Deng didn’t play for the Great Britain national team this summer but has recently been in the UK for his Deng Top 50 Camp and has now opened a new academy in Brixton at Evelyn Grace Academy, in partnership with Nike and Reform Black Britain.
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