Luol Deng celebrated by Bulls in Chicago send-off

ByEric Woodyard ESPN logo
Thursday, November 21, 2019

CHICAGO --Derrick Rosewasn't the only visitor to receive a big reception at the United Center on Wednesday during the Chicago Bulls' 109-89 win against the Detroit Pistons. So did his former teammate Luol Deng.

In October, Deng signed a one-day deal to retire as a Bull after playing 10 of his 15 seasons in Chicago. The Bulls honored him in the second quarter Wednesday night, when Deng received a standing ovation from 18,119 fans from his seat in a mid-level suite.

"It's what made sense," Deng said of retiring as a Bull. "Chicago means a lot to me when you look back, just at my career as a basketball player coming here as a young man, 19, but it's a lot of history here and I wanted it to end the right way. The best way to do it is with familiar faces and people that know me very well."

Rose, who played the first seven years of his career in Chicago, scored 18 points for the Pistons. Deng said he picked Wednesday's game because he wanted Rose to be among those present.

Deng's ex-Bulls teammates Jannero Pargo, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, John Lucas III, Ben Gordon, Aaron Gray and Nazr Mohammed were also in the house in support of the two-time All-Star.

"It's very refreshing to get his flowers while he can still smell them," Pargo told ESPN. "The only thing I'm surprised about is that there's not more guys here. Luol is beloved."

Part of the reason more teammates weren't in attendance is because Deng, who's enjoying retirement, didn't go out of his way to call a bunch of people.

In 2014, he also didn't leave the franchise on the best of terms following his trade from Chicago to Cleveland for the throwaway contract of Andrew Bynum and draft picks, but he let bygones be bygones. Nothing but good memories were shared inside that suite with some of the guys he went to war with for many years.

"First of all, it goes by so fast. All you have at the end of this is just your memories," Noah told ESPN. "What happened with Loul, he got traded out of here after playing a lot of minutes. He gave his heart to the organization.

"When it ended, it was bittersweet, but for him to put away all that negativity and to realize that the special memories are more important than that and putting your ego to the side and being able to say, the group that we had is special and this is where he wanted to end his career," he added. "It says a lot about who he is as a person. I'm just proud to be here -- these were the best times of my life."

Deng, 34, played in Chicago in 2004-14 and averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists on 46% shooting. He spent 15 seasons in the league total, including seven playoff appearances, and still ranks fourth on the Bulls' career leaders list in points (10,286).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.