Ex-NBA player Kenny Anderson: I was scared, I had to shake hands with Kim Jong-un

kenny-anderson-cnnOn Jan. 13, former NBA player Kenny Anderson, who was along with other former players on a North Korean trip to play basketball there, spoke to CNN about his trip.

A former All-American at Georgia Tech, and a man who scored more than 10,000 points during an NBA career that spanned nearly a decade and a half, Anderson was among the group of athletes that chose to join Rodman on his trip to North Korea.

Anderson admitted he had to shake hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And also noted that all players were stripped off their passports once they arrived in North Korea.

“I was feared. You fear of what you don’t know,” Anderson said, answering to why he had shake hands with leader of North Korea.

“I feared – you know, you fear what you don’t know … Like I said, I got the phone call, a few hours before the game. My wife was crying. She was like, ‘don’t play.’ She was scared of my safety. So I had no choice. You know, when we got there, they took – you know, they take our passports away, you know? And I just – I had to finish what I got into,” said Anderson.

“I felt bad. I felt bad. I felt very bad that, you know, for my family, you know, for my close friends and Americans and people that looked up to Kenny Anderson.”

Anderson was on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live” with his agent Monday night on a P.R. offensive. Pressed by Morgan, Anderson admitted that he was paid “a few thousand dollars” to participate in the propaganda exhibition basketball game in North Korea.

But when asked whether he would donate his earning for the trip to charity instead of accepting what some might consider blood money, Anderson repeatedly said he would only donate an unspecified “portion” to charity.

His agent claimed that Anderson’s compensation didn’t come from the North Korean regime, same what Dennis Rodman, and other former player Charles Smith said when they were asked the same question.

“That’s what I’ve been doing after I retired – travelling around the world, playing basketball in different countries,” Anderson said, explaining his visit to North Korea.

After a clip of Dennis Rodman singing “Happy Birthday” to Kim Jong-un played on the screen, Anderson admitted that him and other players looked like puppets.

Anderson said that prior to the trip, he was told that the trip would be about him and other players visiting basketball camps, meeting kids, and playing basketball. He was not informed about the upcoming game on Kim Jong-un’s birthday.

And yet, Anderson said while he regrets the experience, he candidly shoulders his own blame.

“First of all, I’m 43 years old. I make my own decisions. And like I said, I keep going back to it – I was upset with myself,” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to give me so much backlash.”

Anderson spent 14 seasons in the NBA, appearing in 858 games (693 started), averaging 12.6 ppg, 6.1 apg in 30.1 minutes of playing time.


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