Former NBA player Dennis Rodman strongly rebuffed claims that his trip, to North Korea Tuesday was political, amidst an emotional torrent.
Rodman, along with 10 other former NBA players, were in North Korea to play in an exhibition basketball game against a North Korean basketball team. The game will be played Wednesday and coincides with the birthday of the country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.
The CNN interview, aired via satellite, turned out to be quite interesting when Rodman was asked whether the trip was political. Rodman was surrounded by the former players during the interview and the point he seemed to be making was that the trip was purely for the purpose of basket diplomacy. “One day, one day this door is going to open because of these 10 guys here,” he told Chris Cuomo, CNN reporter.
But things got emotional when Cuomo asked Rodman whether he would defend Kenneth Bae, an American, who is being held by the government for unknown reasons.
“Do you understand what he did?” an agitated Rodman asked Cuomo. “You tell me! You tell me! Why is he held captive?”
Rodman then added by saying that it wasn’t his business to know what Bae did. All he cared about was that he and the former NBA players had “dared” to go to North Korea.
The heated interview seemed to make the other players surrounding Rodman uncomfortable. One of the players, Charles Smith tried to cool down tensions by saying the purpose of the game was outside politics.
“We’ve said numerous times that we’re not here for any political aspects,” Smith said.
Essentially, Smith was echoing Rodman’s sentiment but in a calmer manner. Smith also said that the date of the game and Kim’s birthday were purely coincidental.
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