A whole lotta nines were bantered about on Wednesday afternoon as the city of Cleveland was introduced to their newest Cavalier in small forward in Luol Deng. The 6-foot-9-inch Deng, who now has nine years in the league, has worn the No. 9 on his jersey since the day he stepped foot into the NBA. One of nine children, the 28-year-old swingman wears the number as an homage to his mother, Martha. The only problem was that Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers’ rookie point guard from St. Mary’s, has worn the same number all season and, just this week, had his jersey added to the mix within the Cavaliers team shop.
Following a whirlwind of a practice, the two players met in the locker room. To listen to Deng tell the story was nothing short of entertaining.
“It was one of the hardest things I had to do. I knew I had to speak to him at some point,” Deng said. “I think we sat in the locker room for a little while looking at each other. It was almost like we were about to break up. It was really hard, but he’s such a nice guy. He gave me the number. I’m definitely going to have to pay him back for that. It’s really nice of him to do that. I told him that if the number meant something really strong for him, I would pick something else.”
Deng referred to the last 36 hours as “awkward” and “weird” as he was traded to the Cavaliers while family was in town for the holidays. Martha Deng, a novice of the NBA’s CBA, couldn’t understand why the Chicago Bulls would trade her son. It is his first time dealing with a change of this magnitude, but he affirmed that he feels he has been traded from “one winning organization to another.”
Dellavedova, meanwhile, will wear No. 8 and continue to pester anyone not wearing a Cavaliers uniform.
(Image via Scott Sargent/WFNY)