Rodman Blows Up on CNN, Defends Basketball Game in North Korea

Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 09:24 AM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Former NBA star Dennis Rodman Tuesday angrily defended his decision to take a team of former NBA players to play basketball in North Korea, saying the reason was because he loved his friend, leader Kim Jong Un.

"It's a great idea for the world. And, people always turn down the things I do. And, it's weird," Rodman told CNN's "New Day" host Chris Cuomo. "Why? I love my friend. I love my friend. This is my friend."

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Story continues below video.

"You know, you got 10 guys here. Ten guys here that left their families to help this country in the sports nature. Does anyone understand that?" Rodman asked.

Former NBA player Charles Smith, who accompanied Rodman on the trip, explained to CNN the players were using basketball "for cultural exchange." Purportedly, the game is a birthday present for the North Korean leader.

Cuomo challenged Rodman's decision to take the players to North Korea, in light of Un's recent decision to execute his powerful uncle, Jang Song-taek, and the country's imprisoning of American Kenneth Bae.

Rodman angrily responded by asking, "Does anyone know this guy's [Un's] only 31 years old?"

Story continues below video.

He then charged Cuomo was hiding "behind his mike," and asked him if he knew the reasons why Bae was in custody.

"Do you understand what Kenneth Bae did?" Rodman charged. "You tell me, why is he held captive in this country?"

Cuomo answered North Korean authorities had not said why Bae was being held.
Rodman argued no one questions the Olympics, despite problems in the world. He said his goal in traveling to North Korea was to "open the door a little bit."

"No one ever, ever asks anyone in the world why we have Olympics. And, we have struggles around the world," Rodman said.

Rodman said the players would have to return to America and "take the abuse" for the decision to go to North Korea. He maintained their intent was to pave the way for more people to go to that country.

"Guess what? One day, one day this door is going to open, 'cause these 10 guys here, all of us . . . If we could just open the doors a little bit for people to come here, and do one thing," Rodman said.

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