It’s been quite a year for crazy Dennis Rodman. He’s gone from washed up and virtually bankrupt professional athlete to self-appointed basketball ambassador of the isolated communist state of North Korea.
In February, he traveled to the country to film a basketball documentary featuring the Harlem Globetrotters. And love was ignited when he met North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The friendship was based on basketball. Rodman played for the Chicago Bulls and won three championships with the team. Kim Jong-un was a Chicago Bulls fan. The common Chi-town love was a soul mate match made in communist heaven.
But the Rodman/Jong-un affair has been an “Us Against the World” type of relationship. Rodman is still criticized over his February trip, in part, because it came during a time in which the nuclear-armed nation threatened missile strikes against the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
The US and North Korea have had a tense relationship since the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, dividing the Korean Peninsula along the 38th parallel while establishing the DMZ-a demilitarized zone that is arguably the most heavily defended border in the world. No peace treaty was ever signed. And with the countries having no diplomatic relations, the U.S. has advised Americans not to travel to the country after the arrest of 85-year-old Korean War vet Merrill E. Newman, in October, on trumped up war crime charges. Newman was released this month.
Since then, in an apparent attempt to inflate his own personal importance in world affairs, Rodman told Fox News that he was going to North Korea to create a basketball league and fix U.S/North Korean relations. He even went on ABC News to ask Obama to call Kim Jong-un, as seen in this video.
But it didn’t end there. In May, Rodman promised he would rescue Korean-American prisoner Kenneth Bae. The longest held American captive in North Korea since the Korean War, Bae has served one year of a 15-year prison sentence for espionage. And Rodman, playing the role of peacemaker, went on Twitter and asked his so-called homie, Kim Jong-un, to "Do me a solid" and release Kenneth Bae.
I'm calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him "Kim,” to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose.
— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) May 7, 2013
But a week later, when asked about his so-called friend's response, Rodman had a moment of political schizophrenia. "That's not my job to ask about Kenneth Bae," he told reporters. "Ask [President] Obama about that. Ask Hillary Clinton. Ask those [bleeps]."
Perhaps Kim Jong-un reminded him to stay in his place? Perhaps he said, “You’re either with us or against us?”
Cementing his loyalty to N. Korea, this week Rodman returned to the country to start training its basketball team in preparation for the Summer Olympics. This comes despite last week's execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle, General Jang Song-thaek, on charges of treason and debauchery.
But this type of violence is nothing new.
In November, North Korea staged the public executions of 80 of its citizens, some accused of charges as mundane as watching soap operas. Three months prior, Kim Jong-un's ex-girlfriend, singer Hyon Song Wol and 11 other entertainers, were executed on charges of pornography. Their families and former band members were forced to watch their deaths by firing squad.
Still, Rodman is traveling to North Korea with a documentary film crew to train the North Korean national team for a January 8 exhibition versus a group of former NBA players who, at press time, haven’t been revealed.
But if this team fails, the whereabouts of Rodman may not be revealed when Jong-un makes him face the same consequences that those in the past have seen. The last time the North Korean National team competed in international competition was at the Asian Games in 2010. The tallest player was 6'4" and the team went 3-8, and I'm somewhat surprised they even won three games. Olympic-level competition is above what the squad experienced in 2010. And North Korean athletes who fail, face severe consequences. Individuals who haven’t performed well in the past have been sent to labor camps as seen in this video:
The next person's freedom Rodman might be lobbying for is his own if the North Korean National Team doesn't do well in the Olympics. Hell, he could be fighting to live if they miss the 2016 Summer Olympics altogether. I'm not sure what he is telling Kim Jong-un regarding the abilities of his country's top basketball players, but he had better not be spiking the proverbial Kool Aid by exaggerating North Korea's talent pool. They’re not the Bulls of the 90s. In comparison, they suck.
Obviously, Rodman is still a suicidal adrenaline junky with no idea of the type of people he’s screwing with. The man must think he’s exempt from being killed by Jong-un in a blink − like his uncle and his ex-girlfriend − without a mournful afterthought.