Dennis Rodman is the gift that keeps on giving. The former NBA player, who now counts North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un among his close friends after trips there in February and September this year, has talked Irish betting firm Paddy Power into backing his proposed basketball tournament, set to take place in Pyongyang in January 2014.
The North Korean national team will face an All-Star selection chosen by Rodman. The mind boggles when you start to think of who might play in this game. Stephon Marbury, for example, would only have a short flight over from Beijing… A rematch is due for the following June in Europe.
Paddy Power are known for their bold moves – remember the Bendtner underwear flash (left), which prompted a fine many times more than UEFA usually levies for racist abuse? – and so would seem to be an appropriate partner for Rodman. The announcement was made in New York earlier this week, but Paddy Power says it’s been working with Rodman on this since February, a claim that seems unlikely given that Rodman didn’t return from his first North Korean trip until March.
Here’s a quote from Rodman:
“I know in time Americans will see I’m just trying to help us all get along and see eye to eye through basketball, and with my friendship with Kim I know this will happen.”
And here’s a response from the Daily Beast to ‘Comrade Rodman’:
“…no serious person can look at the vast prison camp that is the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and see a “good” country, or embrace as a “friend” a “marshal” who has sentenced his subjects to a life of misery and penury.”
Marbury’s makeover skills may yet come in useful if Rodman can pull off not only the tournament, but also the far larger challenge of convincing a significant number of people he’s not insane.