Whilst the world is locked down during the coronavirus pandemic, two British basketball stars, Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, have been publishing a series of live discussions, hosted on Instagram Live which we have been granted permission to post on the the Hoopsfix podcast feed.
In Episode 4, aired on April 8th 2020, they discussed turning pro, the draft, and playing in the NBA and Europe.
Hear from the pair on:
Pops making the decision on whether to declare for the draft after his Junior year and the conversation he had with Luol
Pops not wanting to have a draft party but it ending up being over 40 people there
The pain of going undrafted for Pops, hearing his mum cried and using that as a motivator
Pops being able to sign with the Dallas Mavericks after a strong NBA Summer League performance
The role Amadou Gallo Fall has played in many African players’ basketball experience
Luol going into the draft being projected top 3, having been initially projected top 20 straight out of High School
Being in the green room, and with all of the trades happening on draft night, Luol finding out he was dropping down
Being selected with the 7th pick by the Phoenix Suns, and having the feeling he has made it
Luol getting a call to find out he had been traded to Chicago but having to do interviews where the press didn’t know yet so running with it
What happened when Pops got his first NBA pay cheque – a $30,000 sum from the Mavericks and going straight to the mall
Learning to be more financially diligent throughout their pro careers
How quickly things had changed for 19 year old Luol; not being able to afford to go to the cinema the night before being drafted
How Luol was so paranoid about going broke, he was eating his pre-game meal from Subway to save money in his rookie year
The sense of gratitude Luol has always had from his humble beginnings
Pops finding out he was cut from the Dallas Mavericks, two minutes before his contract was guaranteed
Pops learning to embrace his journeyman role and recognising the impact it has had on who he is as a person
Luol having ten years in Chicago, having not lived anywhere for more than 5 years prior to that
Deng finding out he was being traded to Cleveland, just after realising where he was in the all-time record boards of the Bulls
Luol taking a long time to adapt to being traded, and always looking back at what Chicago were doing and thinking what could have been
Luol settling instantly in Miami, embracing a family atmosphere and feeling more like he was home
Pops discussing the difference between the NBA and Europe
Pops’ experiences in Italy after being cut from Dallas, and being jumped by fans
Dealing with injuries; Luol’s wrist surgery, and Pops’ more than 11 surgeries through his career
Luol Deng choosing to the Africa t-shirt at the NBA All-Star game, despite it being against league rules
The impact of being from Africa on their NBA careers
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