x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Deng's homecoming a success with NBA games likely in London

The forward, who was raised in London after his family fled war-torn Sudan, saw his Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz in the English capital.

Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls, right, takes on Spencer Nelson of the Utah Jazz during the NBA pre-season game as part of the 2009 NBA Europe Live Tour in London.
Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls, right, takes on Spencer Nelson of the Utah Jazz during the NBA pre-season game as part of the 2009 NBA Europe Live Tour in London.

LONDON // The NBA is still planning to play a regular-season game in London before the 2012 Olympics are hosted by the British capital, but commissioner David Stern admitted there is no set schedule. Stern has said that he wants to play a meaningful game at London's O2 Arena, where the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz 102-101 in a pre-season game last night. "We hope to do it," Stern said, noting that 2010 and 2011 would be the last chances. "We're running out of runway, but we will likely do it."

The NBA was playing in London for the third straight year, and the game at the O2 was again sold out. Although this year's trip to Europe was cut down from previous visits, the Jazz still have one more game to play on Thursday against Real Madrid in the Spanish capital. "I'd love to play here," said Bulls forward Luol Deng, who was raised in London after his family fled war-torn Sudan. "I won't be surprised if that happens." Deng, recovering from a stress fracture in his right leg, said the injury was not the reason he stayed on the bench as the game heated up. "We really wanted to stick with the plan," Deng said. "It's exciting to be home and I wanted to play a lot of minutes, but Coach came and asked me and we kind of talked about it. But it was the right thing to do - just keep managing my minutes." "I won in London, my first game."

The NBA is also playing pre-season games in other countries, including Taiwan and Mexico. Stern also spoke about the global economic downturn and the talks with the referees union. The NBA has locked out the regular referees because of a contract dispute. "As far as I know, there have been no further conversations with the union," Stern said. "Right now we are not discussing anything with the union, but they know how to reach us."

The 2012 Olympics has long been seen as a way to spread the word of basketball in London and beyond, but Stern also said that he would likely follow up the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with expansion on that continent. "Kids around the world are watching our game," Stern said. "They watch the great players and they say, 'I want to be like them.'" * AP