Dictators don’t have friends. Kim Jong-Un is using you.
While I don’t know the North Korean dictator personally, I find it pretty hard to believe that Kim Jong-un is your “friend for life.” I don’t think that he is available to discuss a personal problem or offer advice on a business matter. I am pretty sure that he is using you for his own ends, not the other way around. While you may somehow believe that you are there for him as a buddy, I think you are really there at his whim.
I find it ironic that in the shadow of celebrating the gigantic contributions made to the world by Nelson Mandela, we are fed this nonsense called “basketball diplomacy.”
The Harlem Globetrotters have been traveling the world for over 50 years, bringing goodwill and entertainment to the masses. It is part of their mission and they are really good at it.
Rodman is on a kick to go to North Korea and party with his buddy Kim to celebrate the dictator’s birthday. He is not going to discuss politics, human rights or anything of substance. He is merely going to have some fun and put smiles on people’s faces.
In North Korea? Did the rest of the world run out of unhappy people?
The NBA and its players spend tremendous amounts of time and energy working with underprivileged children all over the world. They make repeated trips to Africa, Europe, China, Asia, South America and, of course, all across the United States.
Rodman’s “relationship” trips to North Korea seem like going to Germany in 1938 to hang out with Dolf and Eva.
While many folks write off his behavior as “Dennis being Dennis,” Rodman has invited several other former players – Charles Smith, Vin Baker, Doug Christie among them – to go with him and play in an exhibition game. Smith has already expressed some remorse.
And while they are all big boys who can make their own decisions, I can’t help but think that maybe the other players haven’t thought this thing all the way through or aren’t getting complete information.
Do the players realize how toxic this guy really is? Would you go party with Idi Amin or Manuel Noriega?
I can’t think of any angle that makes this trip a good idea for anyone. I don’t see this being anything but a propaganda trip for Kim and the North Koreans. I see this as a trip that ruins reputations and kills relationships for everyone not named Dennis Rodman.
Rodman’s reputation already is what it is. He has always been a groundbreaker with his tattoos, piercings, hair colors, creative wardrobe and marketing skills. He is a one of a kind personality, and that takes a special combination of factors.
Smith, the former Knick, said he hopes the game will lead to better relations between the countries. This is happening amid reports — the veracity of which has been called into question- that Kim executed his uncle by feeding him and five colleagues to a pack of 120 starved dogs and executed others by firing squad with artillery rather than bullets.
Are these reports true? Who knows when it comes to Kim, whose father and predecessor once claimed to have 11 holes-in-one in his first round of golf. Undeniably true is that North Korea has starved hundreds of thousands of its own people to death, and less than a year ago threatened the U.S. with a pre-emptive nuclear attack.
But Rodman says that he doesn’t care about any of that stuff.
And he hasn’t responded well to criticism.
Rodman became enraged during a CNN interview Tuesday when asked about whether he would raise the issue of American missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been detained in North Korea since May on charges of “anti-state” crimes, to Kim.
“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,” Rodman told CNN’s Chris Cuomo while pointing at the camera.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. remains gravely concerned about Bae’s health and is ready to send the U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to seek his release if Pyongyang reinstates an invitation that was withdrawn in August. Psaki declined to say whether Rodman’s visit was complicating those diplomatic efforts.
“Just to even have us here, it’s an awesome feeling,” Rodman said. “I want these guys here to show the world, and speak about North Korea in a great light. I hope people will have a different view about North Korea.”
Sounds an awful lot like propaganda to me.
Danny Schayes is a retired 18-year-veteran of the NBA, a professional broadcaster and soon-to-be-published author now penning NBA columns for SheridanHoops. Follow him on Twitter.
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