Luol Deng is maybe not the flashiest name in NBA circles, but the 6'9'' forward served a valuable role in the league for 15 seasons. His best days with the Bulls made him very loved in Chicago, and the love was mutual. But Deng's tenure with the Bulls ended dramatically, with Chicago's medical staff almost ending his career and life.
All-around great player
Deng had the complete package despite not being particularly known for excelling at any skill. Defense, shooting ability, and team play capped off by the hard-working mentality that made him so successful in the league made Deng a two-way threat. Often the best defender on his team, while being the second or third scoring option made Deng a 2x time All-Star with one All-Defensive nod.
Doing everything that showed and didn't show in the box score made Deng a vital piece of those Bulls team, and coach Tom Thibedaou known for burning out his players, made sure to use Luol to the fullest. Between 2009 and 2013, Deng would play about 39 minutes per game, and considering how active he was on the court, that wasn't an easy task.
But you never heard Deng complain about it. Despite suffering a few injuries and not getting too much recognition as a franchise piece, Deng stayed humble and did all the things necessary for winning. That is precisely why his teammates, coaches, and fans adored Luol. But at the start of the 2013 playoffs, Deng would go through the worst moment of his life.
The Bulls medical staff diagnosed Deng with meningitis, which is an inflammation of the brain and spinal core membranes. To help him get better, Luol was recommended to get a "spinal tap," which is a standard procedure when dealing with meningitis. But that would prove to be a horrible mistake.
Deng's body reacted poorly to the tap, as it caused a spinal fluid leak from his body, giving him severe neck pains and headaches for months. The side effects were serious, putting Deng's basketball career and life in danger. But the worst part of the story was that Deng actually didn't have meningitis in the first place.
Luol just had the common flu, and the Bulls medical staff gave him the wrong diagnosis, putting his life at risk. Deng had all the motivation to get back and help his team in the playoffs, but it just wasn't possible. His undermanned Bulls would upset the Nets in the first round and get eliminated by the Heat in the second round, which was still a success considering they didn't have Rose or Deng.
Deng would return next season and play great, but the Bulls management traded him mid-season to the Cavs, most likely because they didn't want to pay him in the off-season. The treatment Luol got from the Bulls was poor, as Deng went on to have good stints with the Cavs and the Heat before signing that massive 4 year/$72 million contract deal with the Lakers, which is considered one of the worst in recent history. Injuries and age prevented him from having an impact there, but still, Deng's legacy got remembered for being a great guy and serviceable player for contending teams.