Veteran forward Luol Deng has been through it all in his NBA career, and the 28-year old knows that for a team to become truly close (and accountable), they have to be able to get in each other’s faces. Deng says the Cavs aren’t there yet, and hopes to expedite the process. Per the Plain Dealer:
“I’ll be honest with you, and I really want to put Chicago behind me, but me and Joakim (Noah) weren’t so nice to each other on the court if one of us didn’t play hard,” Deng said. “And it made us better friends, and play harder. The same with Derrick (Rose). We knew when Derrick didn’t play defense. As good as he is, even his MVP year, if he didn’t play defense, we all said, ‘Yo, you’re not playing defense. You’ve got to step it up.’
All this is what Deng has noticed in just nine games with Cleveland, and he has been hesitant to scream in his teammates’ faces, even if the Cavaliers covet and value his leadership.
“One thing I always say is there’s a right way of saying things,” Deng said. “First, you’ve got to let the guys know what angle I’m coming in. I’m not trying to jump in here and scream at everybody thinking that I’m better. I’m just trying to help everyone to be better. And vise versa. They know some things that I don’t know.”
“I think we all love each other in this locker room, and I see it,” Deng said. “Guys are so close to each other. The one message we keep telling each other is it’s OK to scream at each other. If Kyrie (Irving), Dion (Waiters) or Andy (Varejao) come up to me and demand more from me, I would never take it personally. It’s going to make me better, it’s going to make us better as a team. I think that’s what we’ve got to get to – that kind of mindset where it’s OK to scream at each other and not take it personal.”