Dennis Rodman gave a rather odd satellite interview from North Korea this morning that quickly devolved into an angry rant about Kenneth Bae and who the real criminals or heroes are or are not. Or something.
For starters, it seems Rodman, who arrived in North Korea this week with his traveling band of basketball diplomats, doesn't understand why CNN would question the timing of his basketball game birthday present to Kim Jong-un. The game is a "great idea for the world," Rodman told CNN's Chris Cuomo in an interview that eventually turned into the former basketball star angrily yelling about imprisoned American Kenneth Bae, who has been held in the country on dubious charges for over a year.
Cuomo was speaking to Rodman, along with a handful of other former NBA players who are in the country to play against the North Korean basketball team on Wednesday, which is Kim's birthday. While Rodman and the other players have framed the game as a "cultural exchange," it's also apparently part of a birthday celebration for the dictator. Since Kim loves basketball, and Rodman has repeatedly referred to the dictator as his "friend," Cuomo asked Rodman to justify his friendly association with a man who, among other terrible things, recently killed his own uncle.
Rodman's response to Cuomo, essentially, was that the game is "a great idea for the world," and that "I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you think." Pointing to the former NBA players sitting around him, Rodman screamed, "look at these guys here, look at them ... they dared to do one thing, they came here!"
At one point in his response, Rodman seems to accuse Kenneth Bae of actually doing something wrong, though he isn't sure what that could be.
"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.
At the end of Rodman's rant, former New York Knick Charles Smith added, "Dennis makes a great point." The point, according to Smith, is that the basketball players are "not here to talk politics." They are there to play basketball. Other American visitors to the country can take care of everything else.
Bae, whose health has deteriorated since his imprisonment in the country in late 2012, is serving a 15-year sentence for hard labor in the country. The North Korean charges against him include accusations that the American citizen was part of a Christian conspiracy to overthrow Kim's government. Rodman has repeatedly refused to bring up Bae's plight with his pal Kim, despite initially promising to do so.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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