Former NBA great and Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman was back in North Korea visiting Marshal Kim Jong Un this weekend. I headed down to the SoHo Grand Hotel to check in on Dennis. As he said at the opening, “The last time I had a turn out like this, was when I had my wedding dress. That was awesome.” This press conference was about as crazy.
After inadvertently revealing the name of the dictator’s new baby daughter, he sat for questions at a press conference in New York City. Dime was there to capture all the bizarre hijinks that ensued.
The press conference was a joint affair with Irish betting site, Paddy Power after Rodman’s second visit to the authoritarian regime in North Korea that’s largely been cut off from the outside world under their despot leader, Kim Jong Un. But Rodman thinks the leader of the totalitarian state is “a good guy,” and didn’t mind saying so countless times during a sometimes-rambling 30 minute Q&A session with reporters.
After Rodman met up with Paddy Power in Rome during his visit with the Pope, a plan was hatched to bring a basketball game to North Korea featuring North American stars and North Korea’s own basketball team.
Dennis said he’s going back to North Korea with a team of NBA stars to play against a North Korean team on January 8, which is also the Marshal’s birthday, plus a follow-up game on January 10.
Specifics for the match were not provided, but Dennis did mention former Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone as possible former NBA stars who might join him on his journey for basketball diplomacy. But he dismissed another famous teammate. “Michael Jordan, he won’t do it, because he’s Michael Jordan,” Rodman said.
While there was a lot of eye-rolling during the press conference, primarily by me, everyone sat rapt as Rodman attacked President Barack Obama, and even mentioned Syria — why he felt the need to delve into the tangled yarn of American foreign policy after repeatedly claiming his was not a political mission, is anyone’s guess. Rodman’s voice rose and it was obvious he was rankled by the idea he wasn’t taken seriously by the US President or other American political leaders.
“Why Obama, are you afraid to talk to Dennis Rodman? You’re not afraid to talk to Beyonce and Jay-Z, why not me? Why not me? I’m pretty important now, right? Let’s go. Talk to me. I’m right here. Do one thing. I have the inside track. Whatchu want to do? This is not 1953, this is 2013. This is a new era.”
Rodman will also be headed back to the closed off country on December 14 in order to help train North Korea’s basketball team in preparation for the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.