How NBA star Dennis Rodman came to stand between the world and nuclear war

It says a lot about the world that the only man on good terms with both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un is a former basketball player

2017 has become the year when absurd jokes appear to be coming true. When Dennis Rodman made his first trip to North Korea back in 2013, it was amusing to imagine the eccentric NBA legend acting as the United States de facto ambassador to the country. The idea was as preposterous as Donald Trump somehow being elected president.

It sounds surreal, but with tensions rising between the two countries thanks to North Koreas growing nuclear weapons program, theres a very real possibility that Rodman, a man who once married himself, ends up playing a key role in preventing armageddon. Rodman himself certainly believes he will. In an interview with Good Morning Britain, the five-time NBA champion offered to straighten things out between Trump and North Koreas Kim Jong-un, emphasizing that he considers both men friends.

Rodman, along with a group of journalists from Vice, first visited North Korea in 2013 after an invitation from Kim. It turns out that the North Korean leader grew up a fan of Michael Jordans Chicago Bulls teams from the 1990s. Rodman, one of the best defensive players of the era, was a key figure on those teams, although ultimately he received far more attention for his (literally) colorful antics than his formidable basketball skills.

Rodman stood out on the court with his dyed hair and numerous piercings. Off the court, he moved from controversy to controversy, fueled by a near-limitless need for attention. Rodman dated several celebrities, most famously Madonna and Carmen Electra, appeared in terrible action movies, posed in wedding dresses and coffins to promote his tell-all books and became a tabloid fixture thanks to his self-destructive behavior. He was once even a candidate on Celebrity Apprentice, where Trump fired him for misspelling the name of the future first lady.

Because of his history, few took his basketball diplomacy trip to North Korea very seriously. If they did, it was to criticize Rodman for participating in what was, at least partially, propaganda meant to humanize one of the worlds most notorious dictators. When Rodman proclaimed that he and Kim were friends for life, one wondered whether he had put any thought of the people his new best friend had imprisoned or executed.

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Marissa SafontHow NBA star Dennis Rodman came to stand between the world and nuclear war

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