And so the saga of Dennis Rodman and his so-called basketball diplomacy begins anew in 2014. According to multiple outlets, Rodman has hand-picked a team of NBA “All-Stars” to compete in a game versus North Korea’s best basketball players. In the past it was mentioned that said contest was to help prepare the Democratic Republic of North Korea’s best hoopers for a run at the Olympics in 2016.
However, the game appears to be more of a birthday present for Dictator Kim Jong-un than anything else. Scheduled to tip off Wednesday, the day of Jong-un’s born day, one glance at this roster and you will see that most of the team members have not played competitively in at least 15 years and were somewhat controversial in their heyday.
As per the Associated Press, the players are former NBA washout Vin Baker (42-years-old), Kenny Anderson (43-years-old), Doug Christie (43-years-old), Cliff Robinson (47-years-old), former NBA nobody turned real life nobody Charles Smith (37-years-old), and former Chicago Bulls sniper Craig Hodges (53-years-old), who was allegedly blackballed from the NBA because of his outspoken support of Black Nationalism.
The team line-up reads like the back page of an ancient issue of Sports Illustrated. The last time I saw Kenny Anderson, he appeared on a reality television show looking like he weighed around 300 pounds. Vin Baker was the man when his head was on straight. But that was seldom. Last we heard, the former Milwaukee Buck and New York Knick was going to seminary school. Doug Christie and his uber-controlling wife Jackie were reportedly in the midst of creating an instructional porno in March 2012 – which they’d be killed for doing in North Korea. 53-year-old Craig Hodges, who has been coaching the Halifax Rainmen of the new Canadian professional basketball league, was given a leave by the team owner to participate.
"My previous travels have allowed me to feel the enthusiasm and warmth of fans," Rodman said in a statement. This week will mark his fourth visit to North Korea. "The positive memories and smiles on the faces of the children and families are a testament to the great efforts we have put into fulfilling our mission wherever we go voiding any politics. We are all looking forward to arriving in Pyongyang, meeting the citizens, visiting various charities and using the opportunity to develop new relationships that result in our annual return."
Rodman last visited North Korea in December to train the national basketball team. Irish betting company Paddy Power PLC – a driving force behind the exhibition – removed its name last month as the title sponsor. The company is still financing the trip and is honoring all contractual commitments.