By Charlie Roumeliotis
In January, Luol Deng wrote a letter to British Prime Minster David Cameron in an effort to help restore government funding for the United Kingdom's basketball program after the 2012 London Olympics.
Ten months later, the Chicago Bulls forward is still concerned about the future of basketball in the UK after discovering their $7 million investment for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro could be wiped out.
“It would be a huge setback to lose that funding," said Deng, in an exclusive interview via the Daily Star. "It’s very important. The UK has the potential to be good at basketball. I just don’t think there’s enough interest where it matters."
Football, rugby, and cricket are the sports the UK mainly focuses on, Deng said. But the opportunity for British youths to play basketball is right in front of them.
“Basketball is played by younger kids in the UK, but as they get older there is really not much attention given to it," Deng said. “Right now we have a lot of kids wasting their time not doing a lot or getting into trouble. That’s because they are not interested in the two or three most popular sports in this country. There is an opportunity to grow another sport in the UK here."
Deng said he won't write another letter because he believes he has already made his point to Cameron. But he won't sit back and allow the legacy be "completely demolished for basketball."
“I feel like I’m in a position where there are so many kids who love this game, and because of the position I’m in, I want to see basketball grow," Deng said. "We are failing these kids because we don’t care. Basketball is not where it needs to be yet. But people don’t realize that the talent is there.”