NBA star Dennis Rodman continues his trip in North Korea with a team of fellow former NBA players, including former Knicks player Charles Smith and former Sonics star Vin Baker, for an exhibition game on leader Kim Jong Un’s birthday.
But after an outburst during an interview from North Korea Tuesday, he’s upset the sister of a Lynnwood man, and he’s being chastised by sports and political leaders.
Rodman and friends joined Chris Cuomo via satellite on CNN and Cuomo asked him on live TV whether he’s going to bring up the case of Kenneth Bae to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Bae is the tour operator from Lynnwood who has been imprisoned for planning, what North Korea called, a “religious coup d’etat.”
The question got Rodman pretty upset. “The one thing about politics. Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country?”
Now while it might sound like Rodman is talking nonsense. But as I said Tuesday, back in 1982 when KIRO sent a crew to the old Soviet Union for a week, I would do a Q&A with them from here in Seattle. One of the ground rules was we would not ask anything that might get them in trouble. We knew the broadcast was obviously being monitored, and we were pretty sure the rooms were bugged too.
Be that as it may, one can still question why they are there in the first place.
“They were blinded by the payday, I don’t know what else to say or how directly to say it,” said NBA commissioner David Stern, who was on CNN Tuesday.
And Senator John McCain also told CNN, “I think he (Rodman) is an idiot. I think he’s a person of not great intellect who doesn’t understand that he really does provide propaganda for what is a very brutal, ruthless young man (Kim Jong Un.) In one way, it’s almost comic but on the other side it, it really does increase his prestige with his people.”
Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, said their family couldn’t believe what Rodman said. She told KOMO, “This isn’t some game, this is about someone’s life. A father of three. A son and a brother and a husband. And here he sits, Dennis Rodman, he’s not a diplomat, he said so himself, and he’s definitely not in a position to pass judgment on Kenneth Bae.”
Report by Dave Ross & Owen Murphy.