NBA

Kim Jong Un and Dennis Rodman bond over basketball exhibition game

2/28/13 in NBA   |   BrianMaddock   |   1429 respect

North Korea and the United States may have tense diplomatic relationship, but when it comes to sports (such as the NBA) the lines start to blur out. NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman’s improbable visit to the enemy nation turned up a surprising series of photographs with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un himself, laughing and having a good time while watching a basketball exhibition in Pyongyang.
 
The odd pair “bonded” over the exhibition game, and Dennis Rodman, three Harlem Globetrotters, as well as the Vice Media crew filming the trip ended up receiving invitation for a lavish dinner at the royal palace.
 
Dennis Rodman landed in Pyongyang on Monday to shoot an episode for the HBO series “Vice,” which will air on April 5. Though the group had received the North Korean authorities’ approval for filming a documentary and conducting basketball exhibition, they had no guarantees to a meeting with Kim Jong Un himself.
 
 However, Kim Jong Un’s love for the NBA won over, and as a long-time Chicago Bulls fan he couldn’t let by an opportunity to meet with former Bulls start Dennis Rodman.
 
“We just couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was a long shot, no pun intended,” said Shane Smith, the founder of Vice Media. “We knew he loves the Chicago Bulls and he was a huge basketball fan, and we hoped he would want to meet a five-time N.B.A. champion Chicago Bull. But we had no guarantees.”
 
The exhibition game featured four Americans (including three Globetrotters and Vice Media correspondent Ryan Duffy) playing on mixed teams alongside 12 Korean players, in front of an audience of thousands. Dennis Rodman watched the game from a courtside table, sitting knee to knee with Kim Jong Un.
 
“They were both enjoying the crazy shots, and the Harlem Globetrotters were putting on quite a show,” Shane Smith was cited by the Associated Press.
 
Though Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un and mostly communicated with the help of a translator, the two also chatted for a while in English as well. The North Korean dictator projected a completely different side of him and soon made a fan out of  Dennis Rodman, who told him “You have a friend for life” in a speech at the exhibition game.
 
“Apparently, he (Kim Jong Un) had a blast at the game. So he invited them back to his home for a party and they had a grand old time,” Shane Smith recalled. “Speeches were made — Dennis made a very nice one — and they were met with rounds of applause.”
 
But Kim reportedly told Rodman that he hoped the former NBA player’s visit could help “break the ice” between the US and North Korea
 
Kim Jong Un also reportedly told Dennis Rodman that he hoped the eccentric NBA player’s visit could help ““break the ice” between the United States and North Korean. Relations have been particularly tense lately after North Korea launched its’ third nuclear test two weeks ago.
By the end of the visit, Dennis Rodman and the Vice Media crew returned the favor by inviting Kim Jong Un to the United States. 
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