Dennis Rodman busy preparing for basketball game in North Korea


rodman-hands-airportLast Friday, former NBA star Dennis Rodman held tryouts for a North Korean team to face a dozen NBA veterans in an exhibition game on leader Kim Jong Un’s birthday next month, AP reported.

Rodman, the Hall of Famer, said that plans for the Jan. 8 game are moving ahead, but some of the 12 Americans he wants are afraid to come.

“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,” Rodman told The Associated Press after the 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.”

Rodman, said he expects to announce the roster soon. He also said he is planning another game in June.

On Friday, he stressed that he hopes the game will be friendly, without political or nationalistic overtones.

He said the former NBA players will take on the North Koreans in the first half, but the teams will be mixed for the second half.

“It’s not about win or loss. It’s about one thing — unite two countries,” Rodman said.

On Monday, former NBA rebounding champion returned from North Korea, and said he didn’t get to meet Kim Jong-Un on his third visit.

The heavily tattooed Rodman has developed an unlikely relationship with Kim since making his first trip in March, when he declared the leader a “friend for life”, and is organising an exhibition basketball game on January 8 to mark his birthday.

Asked how he felt about the lack of face-to-face contact with the young ruler after landing at Beijing airport, Rodman said: “I am not worried about it.” He added: “I’ll see him again.”

“He is awesome, man,” Rodman said when asked about Kim as he was being ushered out of the airport by security.

“We’re going to be playing in two weeks,” he added, referring to the match between North Korea and a team of mainly ex-NBA players.

When he left Beijing for Pyongyang last week, Rodman said he would have “a good conversation” with Kim to help the world, without elaborating.

Kim, educated in Switzerland, is reportedly a keen basketball fan, especially of the Chicago Bulls, for whom Rodman played a key role in winning three NBA titles alongside Michael Jordan in the 1990s.

The team of former NBA players was expected to be announced during the trip, but no details have yet been given.

Rodman played in 911 NBA games (573 started), averaging 7.3 points and 13.1 rebounds per game. He also won 5 NBA championships (2 with Detroit Pistons, three with Chicago Bulls).

Rodman had his best rebounding season with the Detroit Pistons in 91-92, when he led the league in rebounds per game, with 18.7 rpg.

He was a two-time All-Star, and won the “Defensive Player of the Year” award twice, in 89-90 and 90-91. He led the NBA in rebounds per game 7 times.



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