Based solely on media attention and focus, you might think that Kobe Bryant is the only NBA player to ever play bravely with a broken finger. With the way sports writers have been gushing, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kobe’s finger won the Nobel Prize and ended up on the cover of Time magazine. (Of course, as some people have pointed out, Kobe’s avulsion fracture isn’t really a true break.)
What a lot of people don’t know — including many Bulls fans — is that Chicago’s Luol Deng has been very quietly playing with a busted digit of his own…a fractured left thumb to be exact.
That might explain why Luol has been shooting 36 percent (21-for-58) while losing the ball nine times over the last four games
Said Deng: “The injury is affecting me a lot, mostly my shot and dribbling, and there are times I’ve thought about not playing. It’s tough. I’m catching passes without using my thumb and then when I’m shooting, it’s almost like an adjustment with my form because my guide hand is affected. I can’t do now what I was doing at the start of the year. But I’ve been playing and we’ve been winning a little more. So I just help where I can, even though there are rebounds where sometimes I don’t go for them because of my thumb.”
And for those people who have enjoyed questioning Deng’s toughness and dedication to the team, here’s the explanation for why he’s still playing: “Last year when I was sitting (with a stress fracture in my right tibia), I made a commitment to play all 82 games this season. Even though it wasn’t my fault last year, I didn’t want anyone to say anything about me being soft anymore. That’s why I don’t want to take any game off all year. I just want to do my job.”
It seems some fans might owe Deng an apology.