Dennis Rodman put together a team of former NBA players to compete in North Korea, and he joined CNN on Tuesday morning to talk about the event.
The interview quickly devolved into an argument about politics in the secretive country, with Rodman coming close to tears in the discussion. Rodman has become close to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and defended their friendship — along with the exhibition basketball game — to CNN host Chris Cuomo.
“I love my friend. This is my friend,” Rodman said.
The former Chicago Bulls player will lead a team that includes former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker. The squad will play against a top North Korean senior national team Wednesday to honor Kim’s birthday. Rodman often has said that basketball could be the link that opens North Korea up to the rest of the world, and he reiterated that on CNN.
“This is not about me,” the former NBA player said. “If I can open the door a little bit — just a little bit ….”
Rodman then compared his efforts to the Olympics.
“No one in the world ever asks why we have the Olympics. … There’s no problems. It’s all about the game,” he said.
Throughout the interview, Cuomo tried to ask about the controversial aspects of Rodman’s friendship with the North Korean dictator. That’s when Rodman went off the rails, getting emotional.
Former NBA player Charles D. Smith defended Rodman’s diplomatic effort, saying the trip was about basketball, not politics.
“We’ve been doing these games for 3 1/2 years,” he said. “Outside of what people know of Dennis, you don’t know Dennis. He’s got a great heart. His passion is about children and families, that’s why we are here.
“We are here because it’s about doing great will around the world.”
Check out the full interview in the video below.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@chicoharlan