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December 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM

No surprise: Dennis Rodman’s North Korean adventure loses sponsor

At the age of 52, the NBA’s original bad boy still seeks the attention of the cameras, but none of the responsibility that comes with being an unofficial ambassador to an irrational and unpredictable government.

Time for Dennis Rodman to grow up and get real.

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman poses for pictures with North Korean basketball players and government officials during a practice session in Pyongyang, North Korea on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Rodman selected the members of the North Korean team who will play in Pyongyang against visiting NBA stars on Jan. 8, 2014, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman poses for pictures with North Korean basketball players and government officials during a practice session in Pyongyang, North Korea on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Rodman selected the members of the North Korean team who will play in Pyongyang against visiting NBA stars on Jan. 8, 2014, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)



After three trips to North Korea this year, we kept hoping Rodman would do the right thing and inquire about North Korea’s human rights record or ask about the 13-month-long detainment of American Kenneth Bae — whether it was behind the scenes or before the flashing lights.

The only American with access to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues to disappoint.

The Associated Press and other news outlets report Dennis Rodman left the country Monday without seeing his “friend for life,” but he was in contact with government officials throughout his stay.

In case you missed it:

  • Last Thursday, Terri Chung, Bae’s sister in the Seattle area, appeared on CNN to plead for Rodman’s help in bringing her brother home. Here’s a link to my write-up for Opinion Northwest, and the editorial board’s latest editorial reminding Americans to not forget about Bae’s imprisonment.
  • On Sunday, The Seattle Times published this chilling account of North Korea’s Camp 14 by guest columnist Shin Dong-hyuk, the only person known to have successfully escaped from the prison to the west.

Neither of these injustices seems to matter to Rodman, who says he’ll be back in Pyongyang next month to host a friendly basketball game in honor of Kim’s birthday.

Good luck with that lofty plan.

The NBA Hall of Famer has not revealed the roster of ex-NBA players he plans to take with him. Now his sponsor, Paddy Power, has withdrawn its support from the poorly named “The Bang in Pyongyang” invitational.

Here’s the emailed statement from the Irish online betting company:

Given changed circumstances Paddy Power has decided to withdraw its association with the Dennis Rodman basketball initiative in North Korea. Dennis Rodman and his team of ex-NBA players will play a basketball match against the North Korean Olympic team on 08 January 2014 in Pyongyang.

It was an awkward situation that got worse. The company could not ignore the storm of criticism it received for associating itself with North Korea’s poor human rights record, especially after the country bragged about executing Kim Jong Un’s uncle.

Without a sponsor, will Rodman still make the trip? At the very least, he should understand he’s in way over his head. He should have tried to do some good while he had the chance.

Here’s Associated Press video coverage of his latest visit:

 

 

Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, kenneth bae, kim jong un

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