Originally posted on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 2/28/12

 Sorry Niki Minaj, but the best part of the roster introductions from Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game in Orlando came courtesy of Luol  Deng  and his T-shirt.

 In case you tuned in late, the Chicago Bulls forward proudly donned a black T-shirt featuring an outlined map of Africa and represented  his roots to the fullest when his name was called on the All-Star stage as an Eastern Conference reserve.

 No harm, right? You would think so.

 Well, the NBA just might call a fashion foul on Deng.

 What was intended as a gesture of pride and inspiration may result in a fine by the league, and the 26-year old Deng -- who hails from  South Sudan and became the first British basketball player named to the NBA All-Star Game -- is more than happy to ante-up.

 "If I get fined, I'm OK. To me, what I did is worth it for me,” the Bulls star said after the game.

"I wouldn't do something that's negative. I wouldn't do that at all. If you look at the T-shirt, it's not of anything. I'm not advertising anything. I just felt like being where I'm from and where I came from, it's something that I always wanted to see as a kid.”

Despite the positive gesture, expect Deng to be penalized from the league office this week. While the league issued no statement yet, we all know the NBA tends to be rather strict about non-sanctioned apparel, even though Deng insists he wasn’t trying to make a statement or advertise something other than his heritage.

As innocent as Deng repping a T-shirt was, from the league’s standpoint this will likely be more about precedence than anything else. David Stern can only imagine how far some players will push that envelope. 

A win-win outcome for Deng and the NBA in this situation: money collected from the fine should go toward a selected charity in South Sundan.

Besides, with Deng in the thick of a six-year contract estimated at $80 million, he’ll gladly cut a check to honor his homeland in Orlando. Deng played about six minutes for the East and didn’t appear at all in the second half of the Western Conference’s 152-149 victory on Sunday, after falling on his injured left wrist.

Now he’ll probably receive more than a slap on the wrist from the league office.

[twitter]

This article first appeared on Crossover Chronicles and was syndicated with permission.

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