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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: nba

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September 9, 2014 at 6:09 AM

NBA gaffe 2.0 may help Seattle get a team, but won’t improve race relations

Danny Ferry, Hawks President of Basketball Operations and GM

Atlanta Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnny Crawford)

Seattle is stirring about another prospect for regaining professional basketball.

This time the inkling comes from Atlanta, where majority Hawks owner Bruce Levenson is selling his controlling interest in the NBA team after he acknowledged sending emails questioning the team’s economic viability because of its predominantly black fan base.

Specifically, Levenson worried that “the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.”

On the surface, it sounds just like former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling expressing a personal distaste for racial minorities. In response to the cultural backlash, the NBA forced Sterling to sell the team last month to Seattle businessman Steve Ballmer.

But Seattleites should resist the temptation to paint Levenson with the Sterling brush, no matter what affect it has on repatriating that NBA franchise.

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Comments | Topics: bruce levenson, donald sterling, hawks

January 13, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Forget Dennis Rodman’s tearful apology, shift attention to Kenneth Bae

A defiant and visibly emotional Dennis Rodman faced a throng of reporters after landing in Beijing over the weekend.

Watch the CNN video below:

[do action=”custom_iframe” url=”http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/world/2014/01/13/penhaul-china-rodmans-tearful-return.cnn” width=”630″ height=”380″ scrolling=””/]

Regardless of his tearful non-apology apology, the former NBA player deserves to stay atop the “loser of the week” list a while longer. That’s what he gets for throwing fellow American Kenneth Bae under the bus. In a ridiculous CNN interview last week, Rodman suggested Bae deserved his 15-year sentence in a North Korean labor camp. Oh, that was just a drunken rant, he later said in a written statement, spurred on by the stress of realizing he’s the only guy in the room defending a brutal dictator.

The Worm’s style of “basketball diplomacy” is about as bad as his attempt to channel Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song. But at least the collapse of his latest goodwill efforts will remind the world that Kenneth Bae is experiencing serious health complications under the watch of Kim Jong Un’s prison guards.

Jack Ohman/Op Art

Jack Ohman/Op Art

Lucky for Rodman, Bae’s family in Washington state issued a statement last Thursday accepting his apology:

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Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, diplomacy, kenneth bae

January 8, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Kenneth Bae’s sister calls Dennis Rodman’s comments ‘appalling’

Fresh off her appearance on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ Tuesday evening, Terri Chung continued to express frustration over Dennis Rodman’s latest comments about Kenneth Bae, her imprisoned brother in North Korea.

Terri Chung holds a letter sent from her brother, Kenneth Bae, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Terri Chung holds up a photo of her brother, Kenneth Bae, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In a phone interview afterward, Chung said she was awakened at 4 a.m. to the news of Rodman’s meltdown during his morning appearance with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. (I wrote about that in this Opinion NW blog post.)

“I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s one thing for him to say he’s not a diplomat that he’s not going to advocate for Kenneth Bae. He’s refused to help. That’s his choice,” she said. “But then he throws these accusations at Kenneth when he clearly has no clue what he’s talking about. It was appalling and beyond me.”

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae. Bae, the latest of several Americans jailed by North Korea in recent years, has already waited longer for his freedom than any of the others had to. But as his health deteriorates, Washington and Pyongyang appear unable to negotiate, each wary of giving concessions to the other. (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae.  (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)

Chung said the recent news of political purges and executions in Pyongyang has elevated her concerns for her brother’s safety. The family was able to speak to him on the phone Dec. 29. The 45-year-old tour operator told them he remains hospitalized with severe back problems. Chung says Bae spoke to his children for the first time since his detainment began in November 2012.

“He misses them and he wants to come home,” she said. “I just don’t want Kenneth to be forgotten. And I also don’t want Kenneth to be used as a media story. This isn’t some game. Dennis Rodman can play all the publicity stunts he wants with his own self, but this isn’t a game. This is someone’s life, a father of three who deserves to come home.”

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Comments | Topics: bill richardson, cnn, david stern

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.

[do action=”custom_iframe” url=”http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/world/2014/01/07/newday-cuomo-dennis-rodman-kenneth-bae-cutdown.cnn” width=”630″ height=”380″ scrolling=””/] 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.

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

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)

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

July 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Update: Kenneth Bae pleads for help in prison video

Update 3:01 p.m.:

CNN has obtained exclusive video from Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean organization, showing Kenneth Bae’s first interview from a hard labor camp where he is serving a 15-year sentence for “hostile acts” against the country. In the video, Bae speaks in Korean. CNN translated his comments as follows:

“Although my health is not good, I am being patient and coping well,” Bae said. “And I hope that with the help of the North Korean government and the United States, I will be released soon.”

Kneeling on the ground and wearing a prison uniform, a visibly thinner Bae revealed July 4 is his father’s 70th birthday.

[do action=”custom_iframe” url=”http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_embed_2x_container.swf?site=cnn&profile=desktop&context=embededition&videoId=world/2013/07/03/magnay-american-jailed-north-korea-video.cnn&contentId=world/2013/07/03/magnay-american-jailed-north-korea-video.cnn” width=”630″ height=”500″ scrolling=””/]

Also, I just learned via Twitter (h/t @randallito) about this change.org petition by Jonathan Bae, who identifies himself as Kenneth Bae’s son. The petition calls on President Barack Obama to send a delegation to North Korea to secure Bae’s release.

Original post:

We can’t seem to get enough of The Worm and his worldly ways. If NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman can use his celebrity to smooth relations with North Korea and secure the release of Lynnwood’s Kenneth Bae during his August trip back to the land of Kim Jung Un— then I say he deserves some serious props for diplomacy.

Of course, Rodman wants more. Have you seen him on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated?

NBA Hall of Fame player Dennis Rodman graces the cover of Sports Illustrated's annual "Where Are They Now" issue. (PHOTO BY CLAY PATRICK MCBRIDE/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)

NBA Hall of Fame player Dennis Rodman graces the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual “Where Are They Now” issue. (PHOTO BY CLAY PATRICK MCBRIDE/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)

According to this July 2 preview story by SI correspondent Ben Golliver, the former Chicago Bull says he deserves to be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize after his recent foray into North Korea with a crew from Vice Media. Rodman’s visit was the subject of Vice on HBO’s season finale. (I’ve embedded a fascinating four-minute clip at the end of this post.)

From Golliver’s write-up:

Rodman plans to return to North Korea in August. “I’m just gonna chill, play some basketball and maybe go on vacation with Kim and his family,” Rodman says. “I’ve called on the Supreme Leader to do me a solid by releasing Kenneth Bae.” The Korean-American missionary was recently sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on charges that he tried to topple the North Korean regime. He’d organized tours into the isolated state.

“My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries,” Rodman says. “Why it’s been left to me to smooth things over, I don’t know. Dennis Rodman, of all people. Keeping us safe is really not my job; it’s the black guy’s [Obama’s] job. But I’ll tell you this: If I don’t finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something’s seriously wrong.”

It’s great to see Rodman hasn’t forgotten about Kenneth Bae.

By now, many of you know I challenged Rodman to set aside his ego in this May 3 blog post to use his friendship with the North Korean dictator to bring attention to Bae’s plight.

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Comments | Topics: basketball, Dennis Rodman, diplomacy

June 21, 2013 at 6:00 AM

NBA Sonics legend Slick Watts to Seattle: ‘The expansion team is on its way.’

Corrected version

I admit I haven’t paid much attention to the NBA finals this year. But thanks to a USC alumni club dinner in Seattle last spring, I won a bid to have lunch with Slick Watts.

This week, I finally used that El Gaucho gift certificate and treated Slick to a steak meal. It was cool. I had to do a double-take when he gave me an autographed photo of him playing back in the day. At the age of 62 — “38 years from 100!” he says —Watts is thinner now, but his face and signature shaved head look exactly the same.

Pre-lunch photo with my lunch pals. (L-R) Maral Nigolian Kirschenmann, me, Slick Watts and Bill Kossen (INSTAGRAM PHOTO COURTESY MARAL NIGOLIAN KIRSCHENMANN)

Pre-lunch photo with my lunch pals. (L-R) Maral Nigolian Kirschenmann, me, Slick Watts and Bill Kossen (INSTAGRAM PHOTO COURTESY MARAL NIGOLIAN KIRSCHENMANN)

My Seattle Times colleague (and Sonics/Slick Watts superfan) Bill Kossen came with me to the lunch. Watching and listening to the two of them riff about Watts’ old teammates and training regimen made me imagine a very different Seattle. Sure, I watched Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton play in televised NBA games growing up, but I didn’t know much about the Sonics’ earlier years when they were really on top.

Watts has swagger. He also has wit and a common sense about him that intrigues me. I mean, here’s a guy who played for the love of the game (making as little as $15,000 per year; as much as $130,000), went without pay when he was injured, and stayed in Seattle long after his pro basketball days ended to teach P.E. to elementary kids in an inner-city school. Certainly doesn’t fit with the image I have of today’s mega-wealthy NBA stars.

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Comments | Topics: basketball, nba, Seattle

June 5, 2013 at 7:10 AM

Elway poll finds a collective shoulder shrug on Sonics

Depending on how one chooses to look at it, the Kings are staying in Sacramento, or the Sonics are not coming back to Seattle. Either way, the local response to the National Basketball Association’s decision seems to be a lackluster, “Meh.” Northwest public opinion guru Stuart Elway found a combination of indifference and no opinion that totaled 55 percent…

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Comments | Topics: Elway Poll, Kings, nba

May 16, 2013 at 11:58 AM

NBA in Sacramento: Kings fans’ perspective

Sacramento Kings fans are basking in the victory of their determined mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson, community leaders and a group of eager buyers. Here’s the Sacramento Bee cartoonist Jack Ohman’s take on Wednesday’s 22-8 decision by the NBA Board of Governors to have the Kings stay put in Sacramento rather than move…

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Comments | Topics: Jack Ohman, nba, Sacramento Bee

May 7, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Dennis Rodman responds to tweet, asks BFF Kim Jong Un to ‘cut Kenneth Bae loose’

Just as President Barack Obama announced Tuesday he would not make any concessions to North Korea, former NBA player Dennis Rodman called on Kim Jong Un to “do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose.” The man has a conscience. Good for him. Let’s hope the retired NBA player’s appeal makes a difference for…

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Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, kenneth bae, nba