- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman defended his decision to travel to North Korea with several other former NBA players to take part in a game on the birthday of Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader, saying it is “all about the game.”

With a cigar in hand and sporting sunglasses, an emotional Mr. Rodman erupted at moments during an interview with CNN “New Day” from Pyongyang, explaining that he did not understand the blow back against his trip there and spoke in glowing terms about Kim Jon-un, who is thought to be turning 31-years-old.

“I love my friend,” Mr. Rodman said on CNN “New Day.” “This is my friend.”


Former New York Knicks forward Charles Smith said that these sorts of trips are aimed a developing good will around the world and that Mr. Rodman was being loose with the word “friend.”

“We had no idea that the type of negative press we were going to get from this would extend this far,” Mr. Smith said. “We are doing what we do. We play basketball, and we love to impact children and families around the world.”

CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo pressed Mr. Smith and Mr. Rodman on how they could celebrate Kim Jong-un after he executed his uncle and detained an American citizen. “It is amazing on how we strive on negativity,” Mr. Rodman said. “Does anyone know this guy is only 31 years old?”

Mr. Cuomo countered, “He could be 31, or he could be 51. He just killed his uncle, and he is holding an American hostage. The family is desperate for his return.”

Mr. Rodman said that the trip is not about him.

“If I could open the door a little bit, just a little bit,” Mr. Rodman said. “No one ever asked anyone in the world why we have Olympics and we have struggles around the world, with all the countries around the world, but when the Olympics are around, there are no problems. It is all about the game. People love to do one thing — sports.”

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