Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman with peace mission in North Korea…


rodman-interviewThe flamboyant former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea to film a television documentary on Tuesday with representatives of the Harlem Globetrotters celebrity team, North Korean state television reported.

It’s the second high-profile US visit this year to North Korea, a country with which it technically remains at war following the Korean war.

The visit comes two weeks after North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test in defiance of UN bans against atomic and missile activity.

Rodman, now 51 years old, won five NBA championships in his prime, achieving a mix of fame and notoriety for his on- and off-court antics.

Rodman played in 911 NBA games (573 started), averaging 7.3 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.

He 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.

Rodman 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.

Rodman, who sports trademark tattoos and piercings, had his trip to Pyongyang organized by a New York-based television production company, VICE.

“I think most of guys are first time here so hopefully everything is OK and hopefully kids have a good time for the game,” Rodman, sporting a baseball cap and sunglasses, told North Korea’s KCNA.

VICE, which has previously worked in North Korea, said the week-long trip would include running a basketball camp for North Korean children and engaging in community-based games.

The company hinted that Kim may attend one of its events, but that could not be independently verified.

Along with football, basketball is enormously popular in North Korea, where it is not uncommon to see basketball hoops in hotel car parks or in school playgrounds.

North Koreans have limited exposure to US pop culture but Michael Jordan, a former teammate of Rodman when they both played for the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, is well known.

During a historic visit to North Korea in 2000, the then secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, presented Kim Jong-il, an NBA fan, with a basketball signed by Jordan that later went on display in the huge cave at Mount Myohyang that holds gifts to the leaders.

North Korea even had its own Jordan wannabe: Ri Myong Hun, a 2.4-metre (7ft 9in) player who is said to have renamed himself Michaelafter his favourite player and moved to Canada for a few years in the 1990s in the hope of making it into the NBA.

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