Dennis Rodman, who recently stirred up controversy with a trip to North Korea along with some inflammatory rhetoric, was not paid for the excursion by the Pyongyang regime, according to Rodman's agent.
ESPN and the Associated Press has more on the story:
Darren Prince said the North Korean government did not finance any part of the trip, adding that Irish betting company Paddy Power PLC covered expenses for Rodman and his team of former NBA players that included Charles D. Smith, Kenny Anderson and Cliff Robinson.
Why is this in of itself noteworthy? For one, outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Rachel Nichols that former NBA players taking part in Rodman’s basketball exhibition in North Korea were “blinded by the payday,” and that the trip hadn’t been sanctioned by the NBA.
The issue of funding has been further clouded by Paddy Power’s claim that it withdrew its name from the venture last month, after news surfaced that Kim had ordered his uncle’s execution.
Dennis Rodman is like the uncle that Kim Jong Un never had killed.— Jimmy Kimmel Live (@JimmyKimmelLive) January 8, 2014
The trip included Rodman serenading dictator Kim Jong Un on his birthday, prior to an exhibition game between Rodman's squad and a North Korean team.
During the Blitzer interview, Stern said that he believes sports diplomacy is a terrific thing but only when done in collaboration with the United States State Department. He also examined the context of Rodman’s part in the larger picture of a country known for its human rights abuses:
I think the debate is a little bit off-kilter, because Dennis had a meltdown? Y’know, Dennis will be Dennis. But, I think there’s a lot at stake here in terms of a country that is a very dangerous country.
This latest Rodman excursion became front-page news after an appearance on CNN in which the Hall of Fame star lashed out against anchor Chris Cuomo in bizarre fashion. Rodman seemed to suggest that American Kenneth Bae, currently serving 15 years of hard labor in the impoverished country, had done something to deserve it.
Rodman later apologized, adding that he’d been drinking at the time.