Luol Deng Signs with Chicago to Retire from the NBA - Hoopsfix.com

Luol Deng Signs with Chicago to Retire from the NBA

Luol Deng retires from NBA

After fifteen seasons, Luol Deng retired as a professional basketball player today but not after signing with Chicago to retire a Bull.

The greatest player to ever hail from the UK, having come up under the legendary Jimmy Rogers’ Brixton Topcats programme, Luol leaves behind a career that saw him as a two-time NBA All-Star, Great Britain Olympian, one-time NBA All-Defensive Second team (2011-12), and NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004-5).

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I want my basketball story as a player to end where it began, bookends to a dream come true. I can wholeheartedly say that one of the greatest moment in my life was being drafted by the @ChicagoBulls. A childhood dream. To be part of a storied franchise and have it serve as the foundation of my legacy. I learned some of my greatest lessons while battling on the court wearing red and black. I made lifelong friends and brothers here. No matter where I’m traveling, I always seem to run into Chicago natives that remind me of how special this part of my life was and is. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank The Bulls organization for making this possible; for welcoming me back so graciously and allowing me to bring my career to a close on such a memorable note. And to all the Bulls fans, I am eternally thankful and grateful for your love and support throughout my career. THANK YOU! No question, the best sports city in the world. Much love. Signing off, #9.

A post shared by Luol Deng (@luoldeng9) on

Having left the UK at 14 to attend Blair Academy, where he became ranked second behind LeBron James in the high school Class of 2003, he was selected seventh overall by the Bulls in the 2004 NBA Draft after a historic freshman year at Duke, leading them to the NCAA Final Four.

An esteemed career in the NBA followed, not just on the court, but off it; he won the Sportsmanship Award in 2006-07, and in 2013-14, Deng was named the recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, an honour given by the Professional Basketball Writers Association for a player who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

In a post on his Instagram, Luol said:

“I want my basketball story as a player to end where it began, bookends to a dream come true. I can wholeheartedly say that one of the greatest moment in my life was being drafted by the @ChicagoBulls. A childhood dream. To be part of a storied franchise and have it serve as the foundation of my legacy.

“I learned some of my greatest lessons while battling on the court wearing red and black. I made lifelong friends and brothers here. No matter where I’m traveling, I always seem to run into Chicago natives that remind me of how special this part of my life was and is.

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank The Bulls organization for making this possible; for welcoming me back so graciously and allowing me to bring my career to a close on such a memorable note.

“And to all the Bulls fans, I am eternally thankful and grateful for your love and support throughout my career. THANK YOU! No question, the best sports city in the world. Much love. Signing off, #9.”

In 902 games over 15 seasons with Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, the L.A. Lakers and Minnesota, Deng averaged 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 34.3 minutes per game. He played in the postseason seven times – six with Chicago and one with Miami – where he averaged 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists through 62 games.

“We’re very fortunate and humbled that Luol has chosen to retire as a Chicago Bull,” said President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Reinsdorf. “He was a role model on and off the court during his nine-plus years in Chicago, and he gave everything he had to help us win. I want to thank Luol for not only what he accomplished on the court for the team, but also for the leadership he demonstrated through his philanthropic efforts.”

Luol represented the England Under-16 and Under-16 teams, before leading the Great Britain Senior Men through multiple campaigns in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics. He finished his international career with averages of 21.7 points (1st all-time), 6.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game, and is the second all-time total points scorer but most notable is his .610 (25-16) win loss record; GB has an overall winning percentage of .332, and when he couldn’t play in 2009, the side lost all but one game.

He had his GB career-high of 38 points vs Bosnia & Herzegovina in 2010, and finishes up with 41 caps.

Deng averaged double-figure scoring his first 12 seasons in the league, and he led the NBA in minutes per game in both 2011-12 (39.4) and 2012-13 (38.7), both seasons in which he was selected to be an All-Star.

“From the moment we made Luol Deng the seventh overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls became a better team,” said Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson. “Luol carried himself with first-class professionalism and leadership, helping lead his Bulls team to eight playoff appearances during his time in Chicago. We’ll always remember his All-Star career and the fierce competitiveness he brought to both ends of the floor every night.”

Deng ranks highly on the Bulls’ All-Time Career Leaders list in seasons played (T-4th, 10), games played (6th, 637), minutes (5th, 22,882), points (4th, 10,286), field goals made (5th, 3,987), field goals attempted (5th, 8,675), free throws made (8th, 1,925), free throws attempted (8th, 2,490), offensive rebounds (9th, 1,109), defensive rebounds (6th, 2,969), total rebounds (9th, 4,078), steals (5th, 639) and blocked shots (10th, 360). He led the Bulls in scoring in both the 2011-12 (15.3 ppg) and 2012-13 (16.5 ppg) seasons.

The Bulls have said they will honour Deng at a game to be determined later this season.

Hoopsfix wants to say a huge thank you to Luol for his service to British basketball, and wish him all the best for his retirement!

All GB statistical information provided by Jamie Smith at the National Basketball Heritage Centre

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