Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Monday riding high. He and six other former NBA players were going to play in an exhibition game against a North Korean squad on leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday.
You see, Rodman is bros with Kim Jong-un (he’s called him “a friend for life”) and he thought the game would make a good birthday present. Plus, it would be another chance to bridge the divide between the U.S. and North Korea with “basketball diplomacy,” Rodman told CNN.
But Rodman’s friendship with the murderous dictator has turned off at least one of his teammates, who is expressing remorse about participating in the trip.
The situation came to a head on Tuesday, when Rodman did another interview with CNN.
Rodman went on an unhinged, profanity-laced rant when he was pressed about Kenneth Bae, an American missionary who has been imprisoned in North Korea since May.
While holding a cigar, Rodman implied that Bae deserved to be detained, even though he seemed to have no knowledge of why the North Koreans took Bae into custody.
Charles Smith, a former New York Knick, cut off Rodman and accused CNN host Chris Cuomo of trying to bait the players into weighing in on political issues.
But Smith later told the Associated Press that the trip’s actual purpose — diplomacy — has been “tainted” and that Rodman was to blame:
"Some of the statements and things that Dennis has said has tainted our efforts," Smith said. "Dennis is a great guy, but how he articulates what goes on — he gets emotional and he says things that he'll apologize for later."
He even questioned whether going to North Korea was a good idea in the first place:
"I feel a lot of remorse for the guys because we are doing something positive, but it's a lot bigger than us. We are not naive, we understand why things are being portrayed the way they are. We can't do anything about that; if we could, we would.
"We're not skilled in those particular areas," he added. "Dennis is definitely not skilled in those particular areas."
The AP report says that other players share Smith's sentiments, but so far the former Knick is the only one to publicly express regret about the trip.
Previously, Smith was best known for getting stuffed four straight times while trying to score in the final seconds of a 1993 playoff game against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Now he has the distinction of being the guy who finally put Dennis Rodman in his place.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.