News

Rodman leaves for N. Korea for basketball

Rodman leaves for N. Korea for basketball

BASKETBALL BIRTHDAY: Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman (C) is surrounded by journalists as he arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport to leave for Pyongyang, in Beijing, Jan. 6. Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee

By Maxim Duncan

BEIJING (Reuters) – Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman left Beijing for North Korea on Monday with a team of retired basketball players to mark the birthday of “nice guy” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

This will be Rodman’s fourth trip to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, where he and his team of fellow former National Basketball Association stars will hold basketball games on Kim’s birthday, which is believed to fall on Wednesday, although it has never been officially confirmed.

On previous visits, Rodman spent time dining as a guest of Kim, with whom he says he has a genuine friendship, though he did not meet Kim on his third trip.

Rodman said he will not interfere in the country’s politics.

“People always say that North Korea is like a really communist country, that people are not allowed to go there,” Rodman told reporters at an airport in Beijing. “I just know the fact that, you know, to me he’s a nice guy, to me.”

“Whatever he does political-wise, that’s not my job. I’m just an athlete, an individual who wants to go over there and play something for the world. That’s it.”

Rodman’s latest visit follows the rare public purge of Kim’s powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was executed in December.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has described recent events in North Korea as a “reign of terror”. The purging of Jang, considered the second most powerful man in the North, indicated factionalism within the secretive government.

Wearing sunglasses, a sequin-encrusted cap and a pink scarf, Rodman was asked about his response to critics who said he should not play in the reclusive state.

“Are they going to shoot me? Are they going to shoot me? Come on, man,” he said.

(Writing by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Michael Perry and Robert Birsel)

Recent Headlines

in Local Sports

Bells win series with BlueJackets with second straight win 3-2

Fresh
bellingham bells pcl logo generic 4

Brice Longanecker recorded the win in relief.

in Local Sports

Report: Blazers assistant coach fired after Aldridge remarks

olshey

Portland's president of basketball operations Neil Olshey confirmed the news to The Oregonian.

in Local Sports

A’s end home skid against King Felix, beat Mariners

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin talks with umpires Adam Hamari, left, and Bill Miller, right, after the Texas Rangers' Carlos Corporan was given a base after being hit by a pitch from A's starter Kendall Graveman in the second inning of their baseball game Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Texas won the game 10-1.

The A's only scored twice off Hernandez but peppered him for 10 hits — the most he has allowed this season.

in Sports

Women’s World Cup: England beats Germany to finish 3rd

The England women's national team celebrating after beating Germany 1-0 in the 2015 Women's World Cup to earn 3rd place

England's victory over the top-ranked Germans came after a gut-wrenching 2-1 semifinal loss to Japan that was decided on an own goal on Wednesday.

in Sports

Wimbledon: Defending champ Kvitova upset, Federer advances

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic makes a return to Kurumi Nara of Japan during their singles match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Thursday July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Madison Keys and Caroline Wozniacki also posted victories on the women's side.