Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng was born in Sudan but spent much of his youth growing up in England, where he spent his time watching plenty of soccer. He is a supporter of Arsenal, but rumors began to swirl that he could be interested in purchasing Crystal Palace following comments that he made back in January.
It wouldn’t be the first time a professional athlete purchased a stake in a sports team, but it would be a bit strange for Deng, an active player for the Lakers, to get involved with owning a team.
That said, Deng recently made comments to Jack Kinnersley of the Independent that suggest he wasn’t all that serious about obtaining an ownership stake in Crystal Palace at this stage:
“I was asked if I had the opportunity, would I? Of course, I lived, from Selhurst Park, not even a five minutes’ walk….I lived right next to Norwood Junction train station so for me I have spent a lot of time climbing up and trying to get a peek at the football games and matches but it’s always been my second team.”
He insisted, though, that the time wasn’t right: “These talks are a long way from where I am at right now.”
Deng has plenty on his plate to focus on without getting involved in owning a soccer club. He took part in the NBA’s Africa game, though he didn’t play due to injury, and has long been an ambassador for basketball in England. He gushed about how great it is for the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers to be playing each other in London next January:
Deng believes it’s a great opportunity for basketball in England: “I think you know for these kids to see it and to see NBA players live and for the sport of basketball I think it’s huge.”
While Deng has certainly had a positive impact overseas, the Lakers need him to have a bounce-back year next season. He signed a 4-year deal worth $72 million with Los Angeles last summer but posted a career-low 7.6 points per game last season on 39 percent from the field.
With the Lakers looking to clear cap space in order to pursue free agents next summer, seeing Deng return to form certainly wouldn’t hurt their cause.