For Rodman and His Squad, Is It Better to Win or Lose to Make Kim Jong-un Happy?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 6 2014 10:31 AM

Rodman Names Roster of Former NBA Players for North Korea Game: Is it Better to Win or Lose to Make Kim Jong-un Happy?

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Dennis Rodman is on a self-described "basketball diplomacy" mission in North Korea.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Former NBA bad boy, and All Star, Dennis Rodman is in North Korea preparing for a basketball spectacle (game) for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday. This is Rodman’s third trip to the country, whose leader he calls a “friend for life.” It’s a strange relationship to be sure, but it's all part of what Rodman calls “basketball diplomacy.”

On Wednesday, as part of the Rodman’s so-called diplomatic efforts, Rodman is heading up a team of—what he promised would be—former NBA players for an exhibition game in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. Over the weekend, true to his word, Rodman named an over-the-hill roster of former NBA players. According to the Associated Press, on the squad that will take on “a top North Korean senior national team” will be former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker, along with former players Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith.

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It’s unclear if winning, or tanking, is the proper etiquette when it comes to staying in the good graces of Kim Jong-un. The leader’s dismal human rights effort was compounded last month when he executed his top deputy, who also happened to be his uncle. Rodman, for his part, is undeterred by the young North Korean leader’s violent side telling the AP, that “his trips would not be affected by the recent execution of Kim's uncle.”

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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