LONDON 2012: British Basketball insist Deng's 'exorbitant' insurance premium is worth it
BRITISH basketball officials have hit back at suggestions Luol Deng may miss this summer's London 2012 Olympics - although admit the expense of his insurance cover could mean cost-cutting.
KEY MAN: Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng is vital to the Olympic hopes of Great Britain coach Chris Finch (British Basketball)
The Chicago Bulls star, who became the first British player to compete in an All-Star game this year, is being pressured to pull-out of the Games by his NBA paymasters.
Deng, whose club contract is worth more than £10 million a year, has spent the last few months playing through the pain of a long-standing ligament injury to his left wrist.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau will already be without star player Derrick Rose for 12 months after his recent cruciate ligament knee injury and fears Deng could also be sidelined long-term if he plays in London rather than spend the close season resting.
The 27-year old is already not covered by the NBA wide insurance policy for players on international duty because of his previous injury problems.
And that means British Basketball may need to find up to £300,000 to insure their star man - whose involvement is seen as critical to the host nation's hopes, as they appear at the Olympics for the first-time since 1948.
"Luol Deng is hugely committed to the British Basketball programme and he has maintained this stance despite recent pressure for him not to play after injuring his wrist during the highly-demanding shortened NBA season," said British Basketball performance director Chris Spice.
"We admire and support his stance. Luol is a true professional and manages his body extremely well as shown by the high amount of minutes he was able to play for his club after sustaining the injury in January this year.
“The insurance to cover Luol is always expensive due his high value, and due to the back exclusion placed on him by the NBA's insurers some years ago.
"Our medical expert opinion remains that his back is no worse than others in the NBA but we have had to continue to cover this as we are contracted to do.
"Unfortunately, we have had no support from the NBA regarding this issue which remains a constant disappointment.
“His wrist situation will make this exorbitant premium even more expensive and we will have to make sacrifices to all our other programmes if we are to make this happen.
"It is difficult, but there is only one Luol Deng and there is only one London 2012 Olympic Games.
“In basketball terms we are a small and emerging nation with not a lot of resources but we have huge pride and great ambition.
"I am optimistic that we will find an affordable solution so that the best basketball player Great Britain has ever produced by some margin is able to take his rightful place alongside his team mates in the London 2012 Olympic basketball tournament."
© Sportsbeat 2012