Dennis Rodman’s mission of hoops diplomacy and peace apparently doesn’t extend to CNN.
Speaking with Chris Cuomo of “New Day” from Pyongyang as his band of former NBA players prepared to play in North Korea, Rodman defended his controversial ties to Kim Jong Un and his multiple trips to North Korea. Rodman took issue with Cuomo’s questions about the timing of the latest trip, weeks after the execution of Kim’s uncle, as well as the wisdom of interacting with the dictator while Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American who is a U.S. citizen, remains held there.
“Kenneth Bae did one thing … If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why? … I would love to speak on this. You know, you’ve got 10 guys [former NBA players] here, 10 guys here, they’ve left their families, they’ve left their damn families, to help this country, as in a sports venture. That’s 10 guys, all these guys here, do anyone understand that? Christmas, New Year’s …
“I don’t give a rat’s [backside] what the hell you think. I’m saying to you, look at these guys here, look at them … they dared to do one thing, they came here.”
Rodman brushed off an attempt by Charles D. Smith, who later said the trip was an athletics mission and not a diplomatic one, to calm him.
“Ain’t no shill … let me do this,” he said to Smith. Then, to Cuomo, he said: “Really? Really? I want to tell you one thing. People round the world, around the world, I wanna do one thing. You’re the guy behind the mic right now. We’re the guys here doing one thing. We have to go back to America and take the abuse. Do you have to take the abuse that we’re gonna take? Do you sir, are you going to take the abuse?
“One day, one day, this door is going to open because these 10 guys here, all of us, [Doug] Christie, Vin [Baker], Dennis, Charles, … I mean everybody here, if we could open the door just a little bit for people to come here and do one thing.”
Rodman, who has touted himself as a candidate for the Nobel peace prize since launching his career as a roving ambassador, said of him: “I love my friend. This is my friend.”
It isn’t clear what to expect when the talk subsides and the game begins. Most likely, it will follow the game that involved the Harlem Globetrotters last February in North Korea. Teams were picked playground style, with two American players on each side. The game which was filmed for an HBO series, ended in a 110-110 tie.
White House press secretary Jay Carney chose not to comment on Rodman’s interview during his daily press briefing. “I’m not going to dignify that outburst with a response,” Carney said (via The Post’s David Nakamura).
H/T CNN for assist with transcription