What’s driving Dennis Rodman and other former NBA players’ interest in visiting North Korea?
Cold, hard cash, according to NBA commissioner David Stern.
Stern appeared on Tuesday night’s edition of CNN’s “The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer” to discuss Rodman and his cohorts’ trip to North Korea,
“They were blinded by the pay day. I don’t know what else to say or how directly to say it. That’s all,” Stern offered.
Emphasizing that the NBA “did not sanction” the visit to North Korea, Stern conceded on the CNN show that sports diplomacy is “a terrific thing.”
However, he added, the sort of media circus that Rodman has stirred up isn’t the ideal approach.
“I understand all of the diplomats who are going to come in and suggest that there is going to be some move ahead, move along intelligence that’s going to be gotten by the body language or who’s close to Kim Jong Un. But I think there have been better ways to do that. We, actually, back in 2006, had had some preliminary, through an intermediary, discussions with Kim Jong Un’s father’s administration. And then I think in 2008, the New York Philharmonic went,” Stern offered. “So, obviously, cultural exchanges, with respect to a country that we would like to know more about are not out of the question. But they should be done in a far more dignified fashion than this particular trip is.”
Rodman caused an even bigger scene than usual on Tuesday when he went into meltdown mode during an interview with CNN’s “New Day.”
When asked by Chris Cuomo if he would urge North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un to release U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, Rodman — who’s leading a team of NBA players in a basketball game as a birthday gift to Kim — went off.
The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing, if you understand — if you understand what Kenneth Bae did, do you understand what he did?” Rodman said.
“”What did he do? You tell me,” Cuomo responded.
“In this country. No no no no! You tell me! You tell me! Why is he held captive?” Rodman shot back, before launching ito a profane rant and declared that he didn’t give a “rat’s ass” about Cuomo’s thoughts on the topic.
Asked about Rodman’s tirade, Stern offered, “You know, Dennis will be Dennis. But I think there’s a lot at stake here in terms of a country that has — a very dangerous country.”
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