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January 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Dennis Rodman, ex-NBA players cannot dodge Kenneth Bae questions

CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo grilled Dennis Rodman on Tuesday about imprisoned American Kenneth Bae, and the former NBA star lost it.

Watch the video below. Rodman and a team of ex-NBA players were interviewed from Pyongyang, where they are scheduled to participate in an exhibition game Wednesday with North Korean players.

Rodman’s incoherent answers are a poor attempt to deflect attention from North Korea’s recent human rights abuses. Aside from the recent execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle, the regime has held former Washington resident and tour operator Kenneth Bae for more than one year.

Here is The Seattle Times’ most recent editorial calling for Bae’s release. Last May, Rodman took to Twitter to ask for Bae’s release. He has since changed his tune — and then some.

During the Cuomo interview, Rodman reiterated his “love” for Kim and suggested Bae had done something wrong. He didn’t — or could not — go into detail.

U.S. basketball player Jerry Dupree, center, uses a mobile camera to take a photograph as he and fellow players including former NBA player Vin Baker, right, arrive at the international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Dennis Rodman arrived in the North Korean with a squad of former basketball stars in what Rodman calls "basketball diplomacy, " although U.S. officials have criticized his efforts. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

U.S. basketball player Jerry Dupree, center, uses a mobile camera to take a photograph as he and fellow players including former NBA player Vin Baker, right, arrive at the international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

It was a strange and combative interview, but a necessary wake-up call to all of the American players. Their trip is billed as a “cultural exchange,” but they must remember a fellow American is trapped in the same repressive country that is treating them like honored guests.

If Rodman won’t come to his senses, the other ex-NBA players in Pyongyang right now must step in and speak up, including former Seattle Supersonic Vin Baker and Rainier Beach High School alum Doug Christie.

Terri Chung, left, and her mother, Myunghee Bae, right, look at a letter sent from their brother and son, Kenneth Bae, as they sit in Bae's home Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. Kenneth Bae, an American tour operator and Christian missionary, has been detained in North Korea since being arrested in November, 2012, and his family is renewing calls for his release as concerns about his health increase. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Terri Chung, left, and her mother, Myunghee Bae, right, look at a letter sent from their brother and son, Kenneth Bae, as they sit in Bae’s home Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

They should check out this Dec. 20 Opinion NW blog post featuring CNN’s previous interview with Bae’s sister, Terri Chung. Also, here’s an op-ed published in The Seattle Times and written by his mother, Myunghee Bae.

For the sake of Kenneth Bae’s family, based here in Washington state, these players should ask the regime about Bae’s condition. Try to bring him home. North Korean officials allowed this group into the country because they recognized their good intentions. There’s no harm in asking about him.

Go ahead and play some basketball, but don’t forget about Kenneth Bae.

Update 2:45 p.m. U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., sent an email to the press on Tuesday condemning Rodman’s statements as “insensitive and counterproductive.” Agreed. Here’s his full statement:

“Dennis Rodman should stick to basketball and not cast aspersions on a fellow American who is being held by a foreign nation,” Larsen said.

“Kenneth Bae and his family have gone through more than enough without having to listen to these hurtful statements from somebody who clearly does not know what he is talking about.

“I join the White House in renewing our call for North Korea to grant a pardon and special amnesty for Kenneth and to immediately release him so he can come home to his family. I pledge my continuing support to Kenneth’s family and will continue working with them and the State Department to ensure his safe return home.”

Comments | More in Video | Topics: cnn, Dennis Rodman, kenneth bae


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