- National Teams
The 2016-17 NBA season tips off tomorrow and the two-time NBA All-Star and Great Britain Olympian, Luol Deng, is excited to be playing for one of most the iconic franchises in NBA history.
With NBA legend Kobe Bryant retiring at the end of last season, the 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers began the rebuilding process this summer by signing Deng to a four year, $72 million contract.
It is the fourth franchise Deng has played for since being drafted in 2004, and he is relishing the challenge.
“I’m very excited- it’s a great organisation and franchise, I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to play here,” he said.
“In my career, I’ve played for a lot of great teams, but to add this to the list of teams that I’ve played for is really exciting, which is why right now I’m working very hard. I know that the last three years we’ve missed the playoffs and struggled, but again, I’m very excited to work with the young players and to try to bring the team back to where they used to be.”
The South Sudan-born basketball star averaged 7 points, 3.2 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game through four pre-season games (sitting out two), and hopes to bring leadership and a winning mentality back to the Lakers, who fell to their worst-ever 17-65 season last year.
“The last three years have been very tough for the Lakers, so I think the best thing about it is the challenge to get back to the winning mentality. The city and the team understand where we are as a club so it’s about making strides forward. In the NBA it can take a lot of time, but the fans appreciate hard work and appreciate results. We’ve got to take every game and show how competitive we can be as a team.”
Fans in the UK can watch the 2016-17 NBA season live on BT Sport or via NBA League Pass (www.nba.tv)