The entire situation surrounding Dennis Rodman and his efforts to become the unofficial U.S. ambassador to North Korea has already rubbed many people the wrong way. Now he is doing the same to some of the so-called NBA All-Stars he is scheduled to play with versus the North Korean national team as well.
Former New York Knicks forward Charles D. Smith recently told the Associated Press that he has already grown weary of Rodman’s behavior and is remorseful of his decision to travel to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. That’s awfully fast considering they have only been in the country for a day.
"What we are doing is positive, but it is getting dwarfed by the other circumstances around it," Smith told The Associated Press. "Apparently our message is not being conveyed properly due to the circumstances that are much bigger than us, and I think that has to do with politics and government."
Smith had said he and Rodman were the best of friends prior to their trip, but the concerns he expressed to AP may have been magnified thanks to a CNN video that has surfaced in which Smith and Rodman attempt to explain their trip to North Korea on New Day with reporter Chris Cuomo. The interview takes a turn for the worse when Cuomo insists on bringing up the Kenneth Bae, a Korean American being held prisoner by the North Korean government.
Smith arrived with Rodman and former NBAers Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, Craig Hodges, and Vin Baker on Tuesday to play in a game that is being described as a birthday present for Kim Jong-un on Wednesday.
"The way some of the statements and things that Dennis has said has tainted our efforts," Smith said. "Dennis is a great guy, but how he articulates what goes on — he gets emotional and he says things that he'll apologize for later."
NBA commissioner David Stern is already spinning the situation away from the league and released a statement.
"The NBA is not involved with Mr. Rodman's North Korea trip and would not participate or support such a venture without the approval of the U.S. State Department," he said. "Although sports in many instances can be helpful in bridging cultural divides, this is not one of them."
Rodman traveled to the North for the first time last February and came back just before Christmas to hold tryouts for the North Korean basketball team, though he did not meet with Kim then.
"I feel bad for Dennis, I feel bad for the players," Smith said afterward, adding that when he played for the United States in the 1988 Olympics he felt elation.
"I felt huge, I felt on top of the world. But I feel the reverse now," he said. "I feel a lot of remorse for the guys because we are doing something positive, but it's a lot bigger than us. We are not naive, we understand why things are being portrayed the way they are. We can't do anything about that, if we could we would. We're not skilled in those particular areas," he added. "Dennis is definitely not skilled in those particular areas."