Luol Deng is awesome. This is an indisputable fact, and the NBA acknowledged this today when he won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
Luol Deng of the Cleveland Cavaliers has been voted the 2013-14 winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, named after the second commissioner of the NBA and presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to the player, coach or trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.
First off, obviously I’m very happy for Luol. Seeing him traded — and to Cleveland, of all places — was incredibly depressing. Deng spent almost an entire decade in Chicago, and anyone who has ever met him swears up and down that he’s a total class act and a generally great human being. He does not, nor did he ever deserve to land in the morass that is the 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers. That he did is a reality of the business of the NBA, but that doesn’t make it any less unfair. So yeah, it’s nice to see him get something out of this year.
For those of you who don’t know, Deng is from what is now South Sudan, a country that seceded from Sudan proper in 2011 after years of civil war. He’s spent the past few years doing charity work there, trying to aid the peace effort, among other things. He’s also worked to use basketball as an outreach in Africa and elsewhere, as well as working in the communities where he’s played.
So congratulations, Luol. You really, truly deserve it.