Following harrowing scenes at airports across America as a result of Donald Trump’s travel ban on 7 predominantly muslim nations widespread protests have erupted around the globe. Today players from the NBA began to voice their concerns about the new president’s attack on muslims.
Raptors guard Kyle Lowry described the ban as “Complete bullshit. I think it’s absolute bullshit”, Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson stated it was “un-American” and Detroit Coach Stan Van Gundy, who has been strongly outspoken about the new president, compared the new order to the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2 and Hitler’s treatment of Jews. These are strong words from around the league but there is nobody more qualified to speak out on this issue than Lakers forward Luol Deng.
Deng was born in Sudan, a country which has been ravaged by civil war since the early 80s, and escaped to Egypt. The Deng family eventually settled in Britain when his father, a member of the Sudanese parliament was granted political asylum. From there Deng’s talent for basketball took him to Duke University and on to what has been a hugely successful career in the NBA. However, Deng has never forgotten that his opportunity to succeed was as a result of compassion towards refugees.
The Lakers wing took to twitter and eloquently described how refugee resettlement in both his native South Sudan (formerly part of Sudan) and around the globe has saved countless lives, including his own. You can read his statement here.
I am proud that Britain as a country provided the Deng family with a safe place to come in the face of terrifying threats to their lives. Luol Deng has been the face of British basketball for over a decade and both him and his siblings Ajou, Deng and Arek have been a fantastic ambassadors for the game in this country. However, recent events in Britain and the spineless way our Prime Minister Theresa May has responded to Trump’s attack on some of the most vulnerable members of the global community make me fear for the future. If the Deng family had sought asylum today in the current political climate it is hard to imagine they would have found the compassion they did in 1993.
In what is obviously a terrifying time for many as Nationalism, Islamaphobia, Racism and Xenophobia sweep across the globe it is incredibly important that respected and influential figures such as Deng, Lowry, Watson, Van Gundy and the countless others speak out. The time where you could just be a basketball player and remove yourself from the world of politics is over. Deng has always done this, long before the current nightmare, and now many others are following his lead.