Spinal tap turned into a nightmare for Luol Deng
By JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org July 31, 2013 3:36PM
Luol Deng | AP
Updated: July 31, 2013 8:54PM
If it were up to several members of Luol Deng’s camp, the two-time All-Star wouldn’t have remained mostly silent throughout a spinal-tap incident that cost him the final seven games of the playoffs.
The Bulls small forward would have been outspoken. He would have been proactive in getting a second opinion on the spinal tap to find out if the procedure was somehow botched.
“It’s just not his nature to rock the boat,’’ a source said.
Deng never did pursue getting to the bottom of why the spinal tap led to so many problems, basically putting his life in danger when his body began to leak spinal fluid, but he finally talked about the last few weeks of the Bulls season.
In Ghana for an NBA “Basketball Without Borders’’ event, Deng did an interview that appeared on NBA.com.
“The end of the season was disappointing,’’ Deng told the website. “I worked hard all season, played in the All-Star, and wanted to take the team as far as possible in the playoffs. But then, when I got sick, We could have handled the situation better. Obviously there are some things that you can’t handle. You can’t really handle getting sick, being taken to the ER or going to the hospital. I got the spinal tap [to rule out meningitis] and that’s where it went all wrong. My body didn’t react well to the spinal tap. I had some serious side effects that not only didn’t allow me to play basketball, but really put my life in danger.
“It’s something that I wouldn’t want anyone to go through, but when I went through it, basketball became second — especially that because what I went through health-wise, my family was very worried. I never want to experience something like that again.’’
It was the “We could have handled the situation better’’ comment from Deng that was the most interesting, especially because there were several people around Deng that wanted more answers than he was willing to look for.
Game 5 against the Brooklyn Nets was the final playoff game Deng played in, logging 43 minutes, scoring 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds. The Bulls went on to win the series against the Nets before being dismissed for the summer in the next round against the Miami Heat.
It was in that series that the Bulls were not only missing Deng from the starting lineup, but Kirk Hinrich.
“I don’t know. It is what it is,’’ Deng said in the interview when asked if the Heat series could have had a different ending with a healthy Bulls team. “We always go by the mind-set that whoever they would have played, that’s who we’re with.
“You can’t really ask those ‘what ifs’ or what could have happened. We will all try to learn from that, move forward and get better next year.’’
As far as Deng’s immediate future with the Bulls, he is a free agent after the season. General manager Gar Forman indicated two weeks ago that “the window is open to talk about an extension.’’