No stranger to controversy, former NBA star Dennis Rodman has once again found himself at the center of attention.
Rodman, along with several other former NBA players, traveled to North Korea this week to play an exhibition basketball game as part of Rodman's "basketball diplomacy" program. The game, held Jan. 8, coincided with the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who Rodman has described as his "best friend," but who many categorize as a brutal dictator.
Rodman first struck up a friendship with Kim last year and has since made several trips to the country. U.S. government officials, CNN reports, have said they have nothing to do with the trips and that attention should be focused on the brutality of Kim's regime.
Human rights groups have also criticized Rodman for not doing more to help secure the release of Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae who has been imprisoned since November of 2012 on charges of "crimes against the state."
When questioned about Bae, Rodman reportedly insinuated that Bae was responsible for his current situation.
“If you understand what Kenneth Bae did ... Do you understand what he did in this country? Why is he held captive in this country?” Rodman said according to a report by Voice of America.
Bae's sister Terri Chung voiced outrage at the remarks accusing Rodman of playing games with her brother's life.
The Washington Post reports officials from the NBA, the State Department and the White House have attempted to distance themselves from Rodman's efforts.
Rodman, however, has defended his visits saying they will help "open the door" and were a "great idea for the world."
Wondering who won the exhibition game? The North Korean team played against the former NBA stars for the first half and then the players were divided into mixed teams for the second half in the "spirit of friendship." A decision The Guardian speculates may have been made to prevent the North Korean players from being punished in the event of a loss.
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