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People in Chicago have been killing Luol Deng. On sports radio and the like. And the way it has happened has been a little funny. Basically, we now know, he has an injury that requires weeks of rest at a minimum, and possibly surgery.
But for reasons that are unclear, it was first announced as something that was day to day.
When it's day to day, every day Deng doesn't play, he seems a little bit more like a guy who is not trying hard.
Anyway, Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune explains:
The Bulls got a lot of public-relations mileage out of a statement they released a week ago about Deng's condition. It was widely viewed as a fed-up team standing up to a pampered professional athlete.
"He has been restricted from high-level activity since [Feb. 28]," team physician Brian Cole was quoted as saying. "At this point, he will undergo 'active rest,' meaning that he will be encouraged to challenge himself physically, and if symptoms remain minimal, he will be allowed an expeditious return to play."
That the Bulls were going to encourage Deng to "challenge himself physically" was interpreted to mean: "Can you believe this guy? What a wimp."
And then here's the payoff:
The Bulls announced Tuesday he will be out at least two weeks with the stress fracture, and there's a possibility he will need surgery. That comes on the heels of news that Deng recently met with an orthopedic surgeon who has extensive knowledge of stress fractures of the lower leg.
What is Deng's team of doctors saying now?
"I just have to avoid as much weight as I can on my leg," he said.
You know what this highlights to me? We're all ready for the idea that athletes might be the problem. It fits some notion in our minds -- but often does not help us better understand what's really going on.
And another interesting point: You see Morrissey's phrasing there? "Mileage?" "A fed up team?"
Once you're in the position of an employer angling in the media to make an employee look bad ... the situation is plainly beyond toxic. It would be a victory for the Bulls to tell the world their long contract guy -- in my brief exposure to him a truly stellar human -- is a dud? What? Who wins there? Is there a plan to win?
If a team is, you know, a team, wouldn't they want to make Luol Deng look good?