Chicago Bulls All-Star Luol Deng missed the last seven games of the 2013 NBA Playoffs due to complications from a spinal tap procedure, and the forward revealed that some of the side effects that arose were actually life threatening.
Deng's currently in Africa for one of the NBA's Basketball Without Borders events, and for the first time since the ordeal, he opened up to Pawel Weszka for NBA.com about what happened:
"The end of the season was disappointing. I worked hard all season, played in the All-Star, and wanted to take the team as far as possible in the playoffs. But then, when I got sick, I think that we could have handled the situation better. Obviously there are some things that you can't handle. You can't really handle getting sick, being taken to the ER or going to the hospital. I got the spinal tap and that's where it went all wrong. My body didn't react well to the spinal tap, I had some serious side effects that not only didn't allow me to play basketball, but really put my life in danger."
Deng received a spinal tap on the day of Game 6 of Chicago's first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets. There were concerns the All-Star forward had meningitis, so a spinal tap was recommended. As it turned out, Deng didn't have meningitis, but the procedure caused spinal fluid to leak from his body.
Deng lost 15 pounds in the days following the procedure, but incredibly, he tried to practice in order to play against the Miami Heat in the second round. He was listed as active for Game 4 against the Heat, but he was never in uniform and didn't play in the series.
Deng has now recovered from the complications, and he says he hopes to never experience anything like it again:
"It's something that I wouldn't want anyone to go through, but when I went through it, I think that basketball became second - especially that because what I went through health wise, my family was very worried. I never want to experience something like that again."
The return of a healthy Deng to the lineup along with Derrick Rose should make the Bulls one of the top challengers to the Heat in the Eastern Conference.