Well, Dennis Rodman is back from his second trip to North Korea. According to Rodman, he went there on a goodwill trip to visit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. After returning from his visit with his “dear friend”, Rodman went on a rant where he challenged President Obama to talk to him instead of “Jay Z and Beyonce”, so that he could broker talks between the president and the North Korean leader. Rodman seemed a bit out of it during the press conference (perhaps jet lag?) and the whole thing seemed somewhat farcical. It actually was a bit reminiscent of a pro wrestling promo, something Rodman is pretty familiar with.
Per Dennis Rodman, all Kim Jong-un wants to do is talk with President Obama, so that they can iron out the differences between the two countries. He said that Kim would meet anywhere, whether it was “London” or “Harlem.” Rodman spoke of Kim with a sense of reverence, constantly referring to him as ‘The Marshal.’ Not only did he consistently refer to Kim as a good person and a close friend, he pointed out that he was allowed to hold Kim’s daughter, which is apparently a very big honor as he was the first person ever to do so.
During his press conference on Monday, Rodman pointed out that he would be travelling to North Korea for a third time in the near future. He stated that he will be staging two exhibition games featuring former NBA stars. Among players he is hopeful will show are Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen. He doesn’t think Michael Jordan will show up, though. He plans for the first game to be played on January 8th, which is Kim’s birthday. The second game would be played shortly after. He plans on having an Irish betting company, Paddy Power, provide the bulk of the financing for this trip. Rodman said that they have promised $3.5 million, though Paddy Power has yet to confirm that.
The first time Rodman went to North Korea, he was followed by filmmakers for the HBO series ‘VICE’ this past February. The episode that showed earlier this year highlighted the tight leash of propaganda that the North Korean regime has on the country. Also, while it seemed to show the good intentions of Rodman, it basically portrayed him as extremely naïve and easily swayed. With his statements today, it seems crystal clear that he is being used by the North Korean government, especially Kim, to sugar coat the regime’s terrible record when it comes to human rights.
For Rodman to get up on a stage, point a finger at the cameras, and call out the President like he’s Hulk Hogan calling out his next opponent is beyond absurd, and extremely offensive. Basically, Rodman has allowed himself to get entranced by delusions of grandeur, believing he’s actually a truly important person in diplomatic relations between North Korea and the rest of the world. The reality is that Kim is just a power-mad boy-king who found a new plaything with Rodman. Rodman, who has always just wanted to be loved more than anything else, found someone who made him feel important again. In Kim, he doesn’t see all the atrocities and megalomania. Instead, he sees “a very good guy”, because Kim makes him feel like someone who matters, like someone who’s relevant.
I doubt highly that Rodman is going to be successful in getting any Hall of Fame caliber players to go with him to North Korea for his goodwill exhibition games. After today’s debacle, the bad press is going to drive any player of relevance far away from this thing. In the end, Rodman may be able to get enough down-on-their-luck players cobbled together to make a couple of teams. But no worries, Rodman. I’m sure that the tightly controlled, state-run media over there will announce that the greatest group of basketball players ever assembled will play for the birthday of the Supreme Leader of North Korea. And Kim will make you feel like a man of great importance, like he’s done the past two times you’ve travelled there.
Rodman has also stated that he plans on training North Korean players for the 2016 Olympics, per Kim’s request. Other projects he has planned with his good buddy are a live TV interview that he’ll conduct with Kim and a biography that he’ll personally write about Kim. In the end, it wouldn’t shock me if Rodman ends up going over to North Korea for good. I don’t believe for a minute that this is about diplomacy or Rodman’s desire to bring peace. He’s mesmerized and enchanted with a country’s leader treating him with such reverence. In North Korea, he is a very important person. Everywhere else in the world, he is a joke.