A writer and an NBA junkie, Karan has worked for the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and written for publications such as SLAM Magazine. He's also the writer of the blog Hoopistani, your source for Basketball, India, Philosophy, and everything else in between. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

All season long, Karan will provide a weekly look at the NBA, touching on everything we've missed and filling you in on everything you need to know.

Luol Deng, Model Employee

Letter of Recommendation for Luol Deng

From the Desk of The Fake Tom Thibodeau Head Coach, Chicago Bulls

To Whom It May Concern,

This is my personal letter of recommendation for our current Employee No. 9, Luol Deng. Even though our Chicago Bulls organisation hopes to never part ways with this talented young player, I write this letter today to officially record Deng’s importance to our team this year.

Deng has been a member of the Chicago Bulls since 2004, the entire span of his professional career. I have had the pleasure of coaching him for about two seasons now, and Deng has been the model of the perfect employee. Despite his obvious talent and versatility at his specific position (Small Forward), Deng never fully received the respect that he deserved from his peers for the first six years or so in the business. I’m proud to say that, under my tutelage, this youngster has fully blossomed and was even awarded with his first visit to the All-Star Game of our parent organisation (the National Basketball Association – NBA) a few months ago.

Deng’s ascent into the cutthroat world of professional basketball today is even more laudable if the reader of this note were to revisit his extraordinary past. He was born in the city of Wau in Sudan, a part of the country that has now received freedom as the independent nation of Southern Sudan, and he was born to the Dinka tribe known for producing some of the tallest people in the world! Very early in his life, Deng’s family escaped with him to Egypt during the Second Sudanese Civil War. It was here that he met former NBA center Manute Bol and received his first lessons in the game of basketball. When he was just 8, Deng moved again to England after his father was granted political asylum there. He moved to Brixton in South London, and soon, his basketball skills developed rapidly. Deng became a star for England’s Youth and Junior basketball teams, and finally made his jump across the Atlantic at the age of 14.

At 14, this Sudanese-British-via-Egpyt-Dinka kid who also happened to be a burgeoning basketball star landed at Blair Academy in New Jersey. During his senior year, he was considered the second-most promising High School player in the entire USA, behind just this other young player called LeBron James, (who is currently a top-serving employee at our rival organisation, the Miami Heat). His High School career led him to be recruited by Duke University, one of the most respected college basketball programmes in the country. Deng was only there for a year, but he made enough of an impact for the Bulls organisation to pick him up early in the 2004 NBA Draft.

Thanks to our most famous former employee Michael Jordan, the Bulls have been one of the top names in basketball for the past few decades. But the popularity wasn’t translating to positive returns when Deng had joined the squad. Long gone were the days of Jordan, and the young team struggled for relevance for several years. Deng was a rising star for us and was named in the All-Rookie First Team. He was a model employee from Day 1, and while other employees came and went, the organisation stood steadfastly by him over the years.

Finally, the team struck gold in 2008 and recruited one of the brightest young talents in the business – Derrick Rose – to be a part of the team as a rookie intern. Since then, Rose has rapidly become a young inspiring leader for us; his accomplishments have been well recorded and deservedly praised. I joined the team in 2010, and along with other valuable assets like Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, Rose has been able to lead the Bulls back into respectability in the NBA. He was rewarded with the NBA’s Employee of the Year Award (otherwise known as the MVP trophy) last year.

Unfortunately, for the 2011-12 season, our organisation have had to cope without Rose for long stretches, losing him to 27 games to a variety of injuries. But if you look at our final returns, his absence has barely hurt the team’s ability to become the best in the NBA again. I will humbly take some credit for our successes of course, in helping to mentor a great, young group of employees who unselfishly work together for the good of the team and the team alone. But Deng’s consistency and professionalism have also been a crucial factor in helping us maintain our elite status. His personal statistics may sound humbler compared to some of the more talented workers out there (15.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg), but it has been his influence as a whole on both ends of the floor and his leadership that mark him apart.

In simpler terms, while other slightly-less-successful organisations boast of individually successful employees like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, or Chris Paul, it was Deng, in Rose’s absence, who was the best player in the NBA’s best team this year.

At present, our organisation finds itself in an unfortunate fix. With the return of Rose, it seemed that we were ready to mount a strong challenge to our competitors and finally lift the NBA Championship again for the first time since 1998. But in only our first game of the postseason, we lost Rose, our finest talent, to an injury that will keep him absent for work for months on end.

I’m sure that, while other organisations may struggle to recover or remain optimistic without the services of their best employee, I am no less confident of our chances to win that Championship. That is because, even without Rose, I am blessed with a large, talented pool of employees to choose from who play tough defense and have a winning mentality. And leading this pool is Employee No. 9, Mr. Luol Deng, who will surely elevate his output for the Playoffs to keep our motor running.

In closing, I would like to also wish Deng the best of luck for the Summer Olympics this summer, where he will be the biggest star for the host team, Great Britain. When this season ends, however, we will look forward to welcoming him back, along with Rose, next season, and mounting another challenge to become the NBA’s best.

Although I don’t want him to ever be employed elsewhere, I highly recommend Luol to other teams if he ever does decide to part ways with us. He is a team player and would make a great asset to any organisation.


Fake Tom Thibodeau