Though he has repeatedly claimed that he is not a diplomat, former NBA star Dennis Rodman went on television in an apparent and feeble attempt to initiate talks between North Korea and the United States.
Rodman recently returned from a trip to the totalitarian country, where he met with dictator Kim Jong-Un and attended a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game. Kim has been accused of attacks on human rights, but Rodman said he now counts Kim as a friend, and urged President Obama to start diplomacy with their common love for basketball.
“He loves basketball. . . I said Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there,” Rodman told George Stephanopoulos during ABC’s This Week. “He asked me to give Obama something to say and do one thing. He wants Obama to do one thing: Call him.”
Rodman’s trip to North Korea with the Globetrotters was documented by Vice Media for a new HBO series. Though the trip was specifically for basketball, Rodman made history as one of few Americans to have met with the North Korea leader since he took power in 2011. Rodman and Vice have been lambasted in some circles for visiting a country with a history of human rights abuses, and for turning the trip into a publicity stunt.
On This Week, Stephanopoulos questioned Rodman’s defense of Kim, mentioning the presence of death camps in North Korea. The former championship player with the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers responded: “We do the same thing here.”
During their meeting, Rodman claims Kim said that he didn’t want war, despite thinly veiled threats to the U.S. and South Korea, as well as the continuation of the country’s nuclear testing. Stephanopoulos also shared a fact sheet detailing North Korea’s human rights offenses.
“I don’t condone that,” Rodman said. “I hate the fact that he’s doing that. I didn’t talk about that. I saw people respected him, his family. I’m not apologizing for him. He was a great guy to me. He was my friend. I don’t condone what he does.”
Before leaving the studio, Rodman told the host, “Don’t hate me.”