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Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls Star, Slams David Cameron Over Cuts To Basketball Funding

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Luol Deng, Britain's biggest basketball star, has written a furious letter to David Cameron, vowing he will not sit back and allow the legacy of his sport to be "demolished", following an announcement that the sport will receive no funding for Rio 2016.

The six-foot-nine Chicago Bulls Star, who has a £50m, six-year contract with the basketball team, is a bigger star than David Beckham across the Atlantic.

Deng, who is described as the Chicago Bulls' "new Michael Jordan", the face of President Barack Obama's home team, said funding cuts to his home sport were "deeply upsetting and confusing at the least."

luol deng

Luol Deng jumps to score during the Men's Basketball at London 2012

Deng, a civil war refugee from Sudan who attended school in Croydon, captained the Team GB basketball team at London 2012. He returns home to the UK often to mentor kids from all backgrounds and promote the sport in the UK.

"We all heard about the 'legacy' that London 2012 was going to bring to sport in the UK and I refuse to sit back and let that legacy be completely demolished for basketball.

"I, along with other people involved in the game, have put too much in and care too greatly to let this happen.

"The sport of basketball is a pathway, a pathway that teaches so many valuable lessons on and off the court - how are we supposed to motivate these kids to carry along their journey when there's now nothing at the end?

"No Team GB, no Olympic dream, no goal."

British Basketball intends to make an "informal representation" to UK Sport this week and ask for a rethink of the cut.

Its performance chairman Roger Moreland said: "Luol's support for us is massively important.

"He recognises the value of funding, not just for the elite levels of sport but to carry on investing in grass roots and creating a route for young people to realise their dreams."

If this is unsuccessful, then a formal appeal could be lodged. This would be heard by the Sport Dispute Resolution Panel.

Stephen Mosley, the Conservative MP for Chester, has secured an adjournment debate in Parliament on funding for basketball, which will take place on Monday night.

So far 11,630 people, including Deng, have signed an online petition which asks: "What happened to Olympic 'legacy'?"
With its worldwide popularity, basketball has huge potential to grow and improve. It argues that Britain needs a high profile national team programme to succeed.

Some sports were given two or three cycles of funding before they achieved a medal, while others who underperformed at London 2012 only saw reductions in funding, not a complete end to it, the petition adds.

A UK Sport spokesman said: "UK Sport has a very clear remit to target resources at the top end of the high performance system to deliver success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"Our investment approach helped lead Britain's athletes to the impressive 65 Olympic and 120 Paralympic medal haul at London 2012.

"Our investment allocations for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games followed an intensive planning process and dialogue with summer Olympic and Paralympic sports, which began over a year ago.

"Sports were invited and supported to produce business cases for investment in their programmes for the Rio cycle, which provided UK Sport with evidence of medal potential for Rio 2016 and/or the following summer Games in 2020.

"This has been the most robust and challenging process ever carried out by UK Sport with sports to ensure that the record investment of £347m will be to the right athletes as we aim to win more medals in Rio than we did at London 2012."

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