“It’s all about the game. People love to do one thing: Sports,” Rodman said when explaining why he was not addressing the widespread human rights abuses in North Korea.
NBA Commissioner David Stern believes “a flash of North Korean money” has blinded Dennis Rodman‘s love of Kim John Un and slams that any future trips by him abroad “should be done in a far more dignified fashion.”
“Dennis will be Dennis,” the retiring commissioner summed up Rodman’s now fourth visit overseas to CNN’s Wolff Blitzer Tuesday. “But I think there’s a lot at stake here in terms of a country that has — a very dangerous country.”
Stern’s voice of disapproval comes just hours after the eccentric Hall of Famer delivered a furious public rant in defense of his ties to the controversial young leader.
“Dennis had a meltdown,” Stern summed up that earlier CNN interview that saw Rodman having to be physically coaxed by a teammate while on camera.
Dennis Rodman became emotional as he described his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. ‘This is my friend. I love my friend,’ Rodman said.
Stern defended Rodman’s visit as having no involvement with the NBA while calling his current players “terrific” when it comes to checking in on their travels plans.
“We did not sanction this. This is not part of us. We wouldn’t do such a thing without collaborating with the U.S. State Department,” he said.
“This one I believe was a little bit blinded by a flash of North Korean money,” Stern said of the former Bulls’ forward.
He further warned that whatever money Rodman may have been given by the young leader to visit the impoverished country could be counterfeit bills with the country’s being “the leader in producing counterfeit money.”
Kim Kwang Hyon/AP
Dennis Rodman huddles with North Korean basketball players and fellow former NBA stars at a practice session in Pyongyang. Former NBA players and North Korean ballers will face off Wednesday in an exhibition for Kim Jong Un’s birthday.
“They need food. They’re the most malnourished country that we don’t do business with,” he stated.
Stern’s voice of disapproval comes just hours after Rodman described Un as his “friend.”
“Why North Korea? Why? I love my friend. This is my friend,” said Rodman while becoming highly emotional in defense of his new BFF who only two months ago ordered the execution of his own uncle.
Since Rodman’s first visit to North Korea last year, he’s faced intense criticism for appearing to turn a blind eye to the rampant human rights abuses there, as well as the plight of Kenneth Bae — an American being held for vague crimes against the state.
Kim Kwang Hyon/AP
Dennis Rodman cheers after a fellow U.S. basketball player makes a jump shot during a practice session with North Korean players in Pyongyang.
Rodman — who is the highest-profile American to interact with Kim — hinted that he had information about Bae.
“Do you understand what Kenneth Bae did?” Rodman barked before moving onto another subject.
Rodman’s teammate for the exhibition, former New York Knick Charles Smith, tried to explain that the exhibition game against North Korean players serves as a valuable cultural exchange, regardless of politics.
Kim Kwang Hyon/AP
Rodman is welcomed by North Korea’s Sports Ministry Vice Minister Son Kwang Ho upon arrival at Pyongyang.
Former NBA players Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, Vin Baker, Eric (Sleepy) Floyd and guard Doug Christie will participate in the game. Four street ball players also are on the squad.
“We had no idea the type of negative press we’d get from this. We’re doing what we do, we’re playing basketball,” Smith said to CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “We’re all Americans. We’re here to do goodwill. We’re apologetic — we didn’t know it was going to take this negative spin.”
But Rodman was more indignant, lauding his teammates’ decision to endure the “abuse” that came with the trip to North Korea.
“You got 10 guys here they have left their damn families to help this country in a sports venture,” said Rodman.
“We got to go back to America and take the abuse.”
Rodman has not revealed how much he is being paid for the bizarre basketball game — but he did say the event would one day be cited as an early example of North Korea opening itself to the world.
“We could just open the door a little bit,” he said.
“It’s all about the game. People love to do one thing: Sports.”