HoopsHype North Korea rumors

January 18, 2014 Updates

He later apologized for comments he made in North Korea about a detained American missionary, saying he had been drinking and was under pressure as he organized an exhibition game there. He also sang "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the start of the friendly game. "What was potentially a historic and monumental event turned into a nightmare for everyone concerned," Prince said. "Dennis Rodman came back from North Korea in pretty rough shape emotionally. The pressure that was put on him to be a combination 'super human' political figure and 'fixer' got the better of him. "He is embarrassed, saddened and remorseful for the anger and hurt his words have caused." USA Today Sports

January 13, 2014 Updates
January 10, 2014 Updates

Dennis Rodman is NOT on Kim Jong-Un's payroll, despite allegations from NBA Commish David Stern ... so says Dennis Rodman. TMZ Sports spoke with Rodman's rep who tells us, "Dennis did not receive, nor has he ever received, any compensation from the North Korean government." Of course, the statement is a direct response to Stern, who told CNN that Dennis only organized the basketball trip to Pyongyang because he was "blinded by a flash of North Korean money." TMZ.com

But Rodman's rep insists the bills were all covered by an Irish gambling company, Paddy Power, which withdrew its sponsorship from a "branding perspective but still honored all of their financial obligations to make the basketball diplomacy event happen." We're told Rodman is still adamant that his trip was never supposed to be political, but was only concocted as an effort to "make people in North Korea and around the world happy and all get along." TMZ.com

As Dennis Rodman continued his controversial "basketball diplomacy" inside North Korea Friday, his U.S. teammates at an exhibition game Wednesday flew out of Pyongyang praising their trip and declaring "mission accomplished". "On behalf of all the players that went on the trip, it's probably best to say that we set out on a mission to use basketball as a bridge for cultural exchange and we accomplished that mission," said Charles Smith at Beijing airport Friday. USA Today Sports

January 9, 2014 Updates

A day after the former basketball star sang "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and led a squad of former NBA players in a friendly game, Rodman issued the apology through publicist Jules Feiler in an email message to The Associated Press. "I want to apologize," Rodman said. "I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dreams of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart. I had been drinking. It's not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It's not an excuse, it's just the truth. "I want to first apologize to Kenneth Bae's family. I want to apologize to my teammates and my management team. I also want to apologize to Chris Cuomo. I embarrassed a lot of people. I'm very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I'm truly sorry." Associated Press

January 8, 2014 Updates

Cliff Robinson -- one of the ex-NBA stars who's in North Korea with Dennis Rodman -- knows his trip has turned into an international "train wreck" and expects serious backlash when he returns to the U.S. ... so says his wife. TMZ Sports spoke with Heather Robinson -- who's appeared on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" -- and she tells us her husband initially agreed to join Rodman because he thought he could help "bridge cultural differences with basketball." But after Rodman went on CNN and defended the country's dictator/murderer Kim Jong Un -- while wildly screaming at the news anchor -- Heather says her hubby knew he had instantly become a part of a PR nightmare. "The look on Cliff's face when Dennis was talking during the CNN interview, it was pure shock and confusion ... it's the look he used to give when a referee used to make a bad call." TMZ.com

January 7, 2014 Updates

Stern, commissioner for nearly 30 years, said the league has had preliminary discussions in the past with Pyongyang about a cultural exchange but he wouldn't send any players to North Korea without the OK of the White House. Stern said he believed that these former players agreed to the game for a big payday and didn't think about the political ramifications. CNN.com

Former NBA star Charles D. Smith says he feels remorse for coming to Pyongyang with Dennis Rodman for a game on the North Korean leader's birthday because the event has been dwarfed by politics and tainted by Rodman's own comments. Smith and other former NBA players are scheduled to play with Rodman against a team of North Koreans in a game on Wednesday that organizers say leader Kim Jong Un is expected to attend. Many of the players on Tuesday privately expressed second thoughts about going ahead because of an outpouring of criticism in the United States. ABC News

Smith, who played for the New York Knicks, said the North Korea trip has been dwarfed by politics and Rodman's frequent boasts about his close friendship with Kim. "What we are doing is positive, but it is getting dwarfed by the other circumstances around it," Smith told The Associated Press. "Apparently our message is not being conveyed properly due to the circumstances that are much bigger than us, and I think that has to do with politics and government." ABC News

“While we support international goodwill and diplomacy in instances deemed appropriate by our Board of Directors, it is important to clarify that the trip to North Korea led by Dennis Rodman and others was not sanctioned by the NBRPA and is not supported by our organization in any way,” said NBRPA Chairman of the Board Otis Birdsong, a four-time NBA All-Star. “Under the right circumstances basketball can serve as a bridge to bring communities together, but these are not those circumstances. Standing alongside our partners at the NBA, we do not condone the basketball activities to be conducted in North Korea this week.” Legends of Basketball

January 6, 2014 Updates

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