PHILADELPHIA – Luol Deng made one thing clear after the Bulls were eliminated in Game 6: He’s playing in the Olympics even if he needs surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist.
“I just know that I’m looking forward to playing in the Olympics,” he said. “I’m excited about it. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, and I’m going to prepare myself for it.”
Deng tore the ligament earlier this season and decided to play in pain rather than undergo surgery that would’ve resulted in him missing most of the regular season and perhaps even the playoffs.
“Honestly, my whole career, it’s the toughest thing I’ve done, and when I look back at it, I’m glad I did it,” Deng said. “I really hope, in the long run, it’s going to make me a better player. I learned a lot of things to be able to do that in the NBA, but I’m glad I made the decision. We had the best record, and we were going into the playoffs with the best team, so it was definitely a great decision. Unfortunately, other things happened.”
If Deng undergoes the surgery, it will be after he plays for Britain, which could mean he would miss the beginning of next season. Complicating matters is that Derrick Rose also is expected to miss the first couple of months of the season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Deng said he’ll wait to see how his wrist feels before and after the Olympics before deciding on whether to undergo surgery.
“I haven’t really ruled out not getting the surgery or getting it,” he said. “I just haven’t made that decision. I just know that I’ve got the Olympics ahead of me. Since I was a kid growing up, it’s something I’ve always wanted to be a part of, and the fact that it’s in my hometown that I grew up in, in a country that gave me the opportunity to even be here, I’m looking forward to it.”
Joakim Noah said he did everything he could to rehabilitate his twisted left ankle but wasn’t healthy enough to play in Game 6.
“I tried everything I could, but it wasn’t enough to play a basketball game,” Noah said
Fans at the Wells Fargo Center cheered when Noah turned his ankle grotesquely in Game 3 and booed when he was helped off the floor. Before the game Thursday, Noah exchanged words with fans who questioned his toughness and taunted him while he was warming up.
“I wanted to be out there real bad,” he said afterward.
“I’m disappointed right now. It hurts. It’s only going to make us stronger.”