- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2013

So Dennis Rodman is in North Korea, trying to train select basketball players for an exhibition game against former U.S. greats on Jan. 8, for dictator Kim Jong-un’s birthday. Meanwhile, Mr. Rodman is putting together a roster of 12 he wants from America to come play. But there’s just one problem: He can’t get the American players to agree to travel to the regime.

They’re too scared, The Associated Press reported.

And no wonder: Mr. Kim just purged the political party of perceived corrupting forces, including his uncle — whom he executed.

It’s that political reality that’s leaving Mr. Rodman in a jam. He’s supposed to be putting together a match-up of North Korea’s best and brightest in basketball against 12 he hand-picked as former NBA legends — all to honor his self-declared “friend for life” Mr. Kim. His inability to bring in the Americans could seriously hamper that effort and ultimately kill the whole game.

But Mr. Rodman isn’t tossing in the towel just yet, AP reported.

“You know, they’re still afraid to come here, but I’m just telling them, you know, don’t be afraid man. It’s all love. It’s all love here,” he said, to the AP after tryouts at the Pyongyang Indoor Gymnasium. “I understand what’s going on with the political stuff and I say, I don’t go into that venture, I’m just doing one thing for these kids here and for this country, and for my country, and for the world pretty much.”

Mr. Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday and expects he’ll have a roster ready soon. Moreover, he said he’s planning on staging another game in June.

At the gym, the former NBA star offered an enticement to the North Korean players who are trying out for the team: Those who are selected will get two new pairs of tennis shoes, he said, AP reported.

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