Former NBA star Dennis Rodman said Monday he'll be coaching North Korea's basketball team for the 2016 Olympics, and that Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, his "friend for life," has invited him to bring a team of NBA stars to play in a tournament in the Communist stronghold.
"I'm not a joke," Rodman said at a press conference Monday, while sitting in front of a bust of his own head, USA Today reports
. "Take me seriously."
Rodman said he wants to try to assemble a team of former NBA all-stars including Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen to play in a tournament scheduled for next January.
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Rodman visited Pyongyang last week for the second time in six months, Time Magazine reports
, and met with Kim Jong Un.
He said that he hopes "basketball diplomacy" will connect North Korea and the western world, and said the NBA tournament would be held in honor of Kim's birthday in January. Rodman's trip to Pyongyang was sponsored by Paddy Power, an Irish bookmaking firm.
Rodman is quick to boast of his friendship with Kim. On Sunday, he called the dictator a "good dad [who] has a beautiful family," and Rodman's handlers said he was the first foreigner to hold Kim's new daughter, Ju-ae.
Rodman, who is in the NBA Hall of Fame, also said he plans to conduct Kim's first televised interview. He didn't give many details about the tournament plans or his goals for the North Korean Olympics team, but he does plan more buddy time with Kim.
The notoriously secretive dictator is also considered one of the world's most cruel. For example, in late August, a South Korean publication said he ordered his ex-girlfriend, along with about a dozen other well-known North Korean performers, to be executed by a machine gun
firing squad after they were accused of violating pornography laws.
But Rodman didn't discuss any of the accusations that have been made about his friend — instead, he talked about Kim's love of basketball.
"If I pull this off, I asked [Kim] to come to New York to a Knicks game," Rodman said. "And what did he say? 'That would be amazing.'"
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