'A great idea for the world': Dennis Rodman angrily defends trip to North Korea
Published Tuesday, January 7, 2014 10:31AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 7, 2014 2:12PM EST
Facing criticism over his current trip to North Korea with a group of fellow ex-NBA stars, Dennis Rodman attempted to defend his latest appearance in the country, calling it a “great idea for the world.”
Rodman reacted angrily during an interview with CNN on Tuesday, in which he was questioned about his decision to travel to the country given it’s track record on human rights.
"It's not a good idea – the one thing that we're doing – it's a great idea for the world, for the world," he told host Chris Cuomo.
Rodman and the other players are in Pyongyang to play a game against a North Korean team on Wednesday, which is reported to be North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's birthday. Kim is expected to attend Wednesday’s game.
The trip comes just a few weeks after the leader boasted in late December about the execution of his uncle. There are also concerns for U.S. tour operator Kenneth Bae, who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year.
When Rodman was pressed during Tuesday's interview on whether he'd use the trip as an opportunity to question Kim on Bae's detainment, he grew angry.
Rodman began shouting and swearing, while suggesting that Bae might have done something wrong to warrant his detainment but not specifically saying what that might be.
He also suggested that the players he was with were putting their reputation on the line to travel to the country for the friendly exhibition.
"You know, you got 10 guys here – 10 guys here that have left their families, left their damn families to help this country in the sports venture.
"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 we’re going to take?” he asked Cuomo.
Following the interview, NBA Commissioner David Stern released a statement stressing that the league has nothing to do with Rodman's trip.
"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."
The National Basketball Retired Players Association echoed the sentiment in its own statement released Tuesday afternoon.
"While we support international goodwill and diplomacy in instances deemed appropriate ... it is important to clarify that the trip to North Korea led by Dennis Rodman and others was not sanctioned by the NBRPA and is not supported by our organization in any way," NBRPA Chairman Otis Birdsong said.
Former New York Knicks star Charles D. Smith, who is also in Pyongyang for Wednesday's game, told The Associated Press that he regrets coming to North Korea because the event has become embroiled in politics.
"Apparently our message is not being conveyed properly due to the circumstances that are much bigger than us, and I think that has to do with politics and government," Smith said.
This isn't the first time Rodman has visited North Korea. Last February, he travelled to the country with members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.
Rodman has forged a surprising friendship with Kim, who is reported to love basketball. Kim inherited power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011.
The U.S. State Department has recommended that U.S. citizens not attempt travel to North Korea. At least six U.S. citizens – including two who had valid travel visas to enter the country – have been arrested there since 2009.
With files from The Associated Press