Dennis Rodman and Paddy Power Announce Basketball Invitational in North Korea

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2013

SPRINGFIELD, MA - AUGUST 12:   Dennis Rodman gestures during the Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Symphony Hall on August 12, 2011 in Springfield, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The unlikely friendship between Hall of Fame basketball player Dennis Rodman and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has taken the sports world by storm in recent months, and a new venture between them ensures that they'll continue to make headlines for the foreseeable future.

According to Irish bookmaking company Paddy Power, it will partner with Rodman to stage a basketball invitational in North Korea in January.

It isn't yet known what type of format will be used for the event, nor have any potential teams or players been announced, but this could be a huge opportunity for the United States and North Korea to find some common ground.   

After first meeting in February, Rodman returned to North Korea and met with Kim Jong-un once again last week, according to the Associated Press, via The Guardian.

Many Americans had hoped that Rodman would be able to convince Kim Jong-un to pardon American Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor due to hostile acts against the state. But according to Michael Martina of ReutersRodman was defiant when asked about him.

"That's not my job to ask about Kenneth Bae. Ask Obama about that. Ask Hillary Clinton," Rodman said. "I don't give a [expletive]."

According to the Associated Presshowever, Rodman said prior to his trip to North Korea that he planned to discuss starting a professional basketball league in the secretive country.

"I just want to meet my friend Kim, the marshal, and start a basketball league over there or something like that," he said.

It is unclear if Rodman made any progress on that front, but he and Kim Jong-un clearly came to some type of agreement regarding a basketball event.

The United States won't kowtow to Kim Jong-un and North Korea, but perhaps this basketball invitational can have a similar effect to what ping-pong diplomacy did for the United States and China in the 1970s, when Richard Nixon was in office.

If the United States and North Korea can find some common ground through the sport of basketball, it could be a huge positive for world affairs, and Rodman may be looked at as a key figure in making it happen.


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