• Jerome 'Slim' Du Plooy
Jerome 'Slim' Du Plooy is a South African television presenter of The Bball Show (Saturdays on SABC1). A top media and radio studies graduate from Boston Media House in Johannesburg, South Africa, Slim is also a former radio DJ and an experienced MC at NBA and basketball events, which include the NBA All-Star Jam Session (U.S.) and Basketball without Borders Africa (South Africa). Passionate about the game of basketball and the NBA, Slim is bringing his own perspective to the 2012-13 NBA season via his bi-weekly blog – The Slim Line.

African Brothers Reunite in Houston

It is kind of strange how life has a way of working out. I have been taught that the only thing that can bring the world together is love. Seven years ago I was new to Basketball without Borders Africa and happened to be on MySpace where I connected with a friend, role model and now a big brother, Luol Deng. Back then, we just happened to connect and never thought it would grow into something this big, a brotherhood. When we eventually met in person that year, I introduced myself to Lu as the kid who had messaged him before he came to South Africa and it all started from there.

During Christmas 2006, I visited Rasual Butler who was playing for the Hornets at the time. I told Luol I would be in the U.S. and he said he would make a plan to see me, but our schedules were different. We lost contact for years until I heard he would be coming back to Basketball without Borders Africa 2012. A day before the event tipped off, I met John Daniels who is responsible for security, and the first thing he asked me was if I knew who was looking for me and asking about me? I asked ‘Who?’ and when he replied ‘Luol’ I was touched because six years is a long time and most players would’ve forgotten that they’ve even met you.

When I saw Luol in Johannesburg last August, there was just this energy like when two friends find each other after a long time. I interviewed him for The BBall Show and also hung out with him for a bit afterwards. What was crazy was that once I found out he would be going back to All-Star 2013 as a two-time NBA All-Star, I contacted him and Adam Andre from the Luol Deng Foundation straight away. I let them know I would be coming over to emcee at the Jam session for my second consecutive year and they were really looking forward to seeing me.

It wasn't until Saturday morning after the All-Star practice that I saw Luol. He was upstairs, close to the emcee room and when we saw each other, we instantly reconnected, sharing some jokes and catching up. I was wearing a Kevin Garnett jersey they dressed me in, so Lu was joking that he wouldn’t take a picture with me until I took it off. He also introduced me to his Chicago Bulls’ teammate Joakim Noah. See, here is the thing. I am humbled when Amadou Fall (NBA Senior Vice President of Development, Africa) or Masai Ujiri (Denver Nuggets General Manager) shares my story, but having someone like Luol tell his teammate, and people I don't even know about me, it is really touching in a special way. He even put our picture up on Instagram which was even more meaningful, since he shared it with his 220,000 followers on Twitter.

We caught up at the NBA Africa party later on, as I could not attend the reception during the day due to the Jam Session. I met his brothers and the rest of the Deng family who came to the ASW, as well as some of the people Lu works with. Deep in the back of my mind I wondered if Luol knew that this was the second consecutive All-Star Weekend for both of us, but I didn't think he knew I was even there last year. We hung out for a bit before I had to make my way back to the Jam Session.

The night of the All-Star game I met up with Luca Desta who works for the Dallas Mavericks. He told me that when you love what you do, it is a blessing, but when you do what you love with passion, it is no longer a job and the only person who can stop you from doing what you love is yourself. That reminded me so much of Luol and me. We were once little boys in South Sudan and South Africa with nothing and now we are blessed to have been given opportunities to do what we love.

There was a very special moment with the rising of the flags as South Sudan was featured with all the other flags. Even the introduction of Luol gave me goose bumps as I stood there, in row nine, watching my boy being called up to do what he loves – basketball.

Whatever spark there was between me and Luol six years ago, it ignited a fire that would bring the two of us together in the name of friendship, brotherhood and basketball, leaving us with a long-lasting friendship. I would like to say thank you to the NBA for believing in our ability and our potential because if it wasn’t for them, I don't think either of us would be where we are today.

Make sure you follow me on Twitter @CuteKidSlim – send through all your comments and let us grow this beautiful game of basketball. Be sure to also like NBA Africa on Facebook and follow @NBAAfrica.