Dennis Rodman is a profound idiot. Here’s why. Rodman has lashed out at a CNN anchor after being asked to explain his motivations for his second trip to North Korea. The former NBA star started screaming at New Day anchor Chris Cuomo after the host pressed him about whether or not he would advocate on behalf of imprisoned American Kenneth Bae. While he maintains that the trip is not a political one, Rodman went on to imply that Bae, a missionary, was at fault for his 15-year prison sentence even though the North Korean government has yet to announce the charges against him.
‘The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand — if you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did? In this country?’ Rodman said to Cuomo. ‘What did he do? You tell me,’ Cuomo said. ‘You tell me. You tell me. Why is he held captive?’ Rodman said, growing visibly agitated. Cuomo and Rodman began speaking over each other and fellow basketball player Chris Smith tried to calm Rodman down but he waved him off, saying ‘I would love to speak on this’ before deflecting and focusing on the team of former NBA players who traveled to the rogue nation to participate in what they see as a diplomatic sports trip.
At one point during the interview, Rodman yelled out at Cuomo, saying: ‘I don’t give a rats ass what you think!’ ‘It’s amazing how we strive on negativity. This guy this leader, do [sic] anyone know this guy is only 31 years old?’ The eccentric Chicago Bulls star went from praising ‘my friend’ Kim Jong Un to praising the sacrifices that his fellow Americans have made by traveling with him- ‘We’ve got ten guys here who left their families… do you understand that?’ he said at one point. He started off by explaining that the trip is ‘not a good idea, the one thing that we’re doing- it’s a great idea for the world- for the world. People always come down on things I do and it’s weird, it’s like “Wow, really?” You got Michael Jordan, you got LeBron James and they can do all the cool things in the world but me its like why North Korea?’
After listing off some of his better-known former NBA stars that traveled with him, Rodman praised the men for being ‘the last sole survivors’ who agreed to go with him. ‘I’ve had a lot of guys pull out,’ he said. Former Knicks star Chris Smith was far calmer during his talking points, saying that the group just saw the trip as another opportunity to use basketball to connect people. ‘We’re apologetic. We did not know it was going to take this type of negative spin,’ Smith said, though at another point he said that ‘you’d have to live under a rock not to know the press that was coming’.
Rodman’s squad – featuring ex-All Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vin Baker – will play against a team of North Koreans on Wednesday, which is believed to be Kim’s birthday. Upon their Monday arrival in Pyongyang, Rodman told The Associated Press he was glad to be in North Korea for the game, though he said he has gotten death threats for his repeated visits. He said proceeds from the game would go to a charity for the deaf in North Korea. ‘The marshal is actually trying to change this country in a great way,’ Rodman said of Kim, using the leader’s official title. ‘I think that people thought that this was a joke, and Dennis Rodman is just doing this because fame and fortune.’ Instead, he said, he sees the game as a ‘birthday present’ for Kim and his country.
‘Just to even have us here, it’s an awesome feeling. I want these guys here to show the world, and speak about North Korea in a great light,’ he said. ‘I hope people will have a different view about North Korea.’ NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement Monday night. ‘The NBA is not involved with Mr Rodman’s North Korea trip and would not participate or support such a venture without the approval of the U.S. State Department,’ Stern said. ‘Although sports in many instances can be helpful in bridging cultural divides, this is not one of them.’
Kim Jong Un announced recently that he ordered the execution of his uncle who previously served as his number two, but Rodman avoided answering any questions about the execution when pressed by Cuomo. ‘It’s about trying to connect two countries together in the world, to let people know that: Do you know what? Not every country in the world is that bad, especially North Korea,’ Rodman told The Associated Press in an interview outside his Beijing hotel before his flight to North Korea. ‘People say so many negative things about North Korea. And I want people in the world to see it’s not that bad.’
The U.S. is at odds with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, and Rodman has been faulted for not talking about North Korea’s human rights record, described as one of the world’s worst by activists, the U.S. State Department and North Korean defectors. The defectors have repeatedly testified about the government’s alleged use of indiscriminate killings, rapes, beatings and prison camps holding as many as 120,000 people deemed opponents of authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un, the third generation of his family to rule.
The U.S. players are to compete in an exhibition game against a North Korean team on Wednesday, Kim’s birthday. ‘Somehow we have to get along, and no matter what disagreements or what discrepancy we have in life,’ Rodman said. ‘It’s like saying: Why do we have the Olympics? When everyone one comes together in the Olympics, there’s no problems. That’s what I’m doing. That’s all I’m doing.’ The fact that Rodman has developed a friendship with Kim Jong Un will seem surreal to many. A picture surfaced on Monday of the former basketball player riding the tyrant’s horse last summer, which makes the relationship seem even more bizarre.
North Korea is a complicated place, without question, and normally, this journalist favors efforts that involve opening doors and communicating with our adversaries. Decades of sanctions and isolation have not stopped North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. Isolation has not helped human rights. The problem is that Rodman is not a diplomat. He is not a negotiator. While Rodman is hooping it up for the dictator, an American is still being held in a North Korean prison. What then, is Rodman’s point? There is not one. Dennis has found the last place on the planet where he is newsworthy and it’s sad. Very sad.