North Korea Rumors
Former NBA All-Star Kenny Anderson says Sony Pictures absolutely did the right thing by pulling “The Interview” out of theaters … and adds he can’t figure out why they made it in the first place. Kenny actually met Kim Jong-un when he went to North Korea in January as part of Dennis Rodman’s goodwill team of ex-NBA players. He tells TMZ Sports … “I was trippin’ when I saw the movie preview. Why would they want to ruffle their feathers? They already hate America.”
U.S. authorities have determined that North Korea is behind the recent cyber attack on Sony Pictures, a federal law enforcement official said Wednesday. The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said a formal announcement of attribution by the U.S. government could come as soon as Thursday. Sony Pictures Entertainment was hit by hackers Nov. 24. A glowing red skeleton appeared on screens throughout the Culver City, Calif.-based Sony subsidiary.
Diamond Leung: Learned today Dennis Rodman has a new publicist after that whole North Korea thing. #kerr
A Former American basketball player has said that he regrets going on the ‘eerie’ diplomacy trip to North Korea with the controversial Dennis Rodman to meet Kim Jong-un. Former NBA player Vin Baker traveled to North Korea with Rodman and seven additional former NBA All-Star players in January to play an exhibition game against the North Korean basketball team, after which they were introduced to the North Korean leader. According to The Huffington Post, Baker said that he was ‘shocked, surprised, disappointed and hurt’ following the controversial trip, adding that he believes in hindsight, most of the players who went in that trip would have given it a second thought.
Dennis Rodman has vowed never to return to North Korea following his controversial visit in January. The former basketball star has struck up a friendship with the country’s dictator Kim Jong-un and during his trip earlier this year he was caught on camera singing Happy Birthday to the North Korean leader. Rodman’s trip sparked a wave of criticism and the sports star subsequently checked into rehab after returning to the US. He has now given an emotional interview in which he declares he will never return to North Korea. Rodman is seen with tears rolling down his face as he tells ESPN, “What makes me so damn bad? What makes me this bad, awful person? “I don’t want people to look at me as the devil or evil person. If I put anyone in harm’s way, I apologise, you know … If you don’t want me to go back there ever again, I won’t go back.”
Sporting a black canvas-like fedora with black feathers in the back and a pair of large-lense, white-framed sunglasses with a nose ring in each nostril, another ring looped around his lower lip and at least one ring in his left ear, Rodman, also wrapped in several bright neck scarves, wondered: “What makes me so damn bad? What makes me this bad, awful person?” “At least someone tried,” Rodman said. “So that’s how I look at it. You know, I don’t want to be a hero, I don’t want to be this, I don’t want to be that. I just wanted to be, just do happy things and do great things in life. That’s all I wanted to do. That’s it.”
Dennis Rodman, two months after traveling to North Korea for the second time to visit leader Kim Jong Un and conduct an exhibition basketball game, insisted in an interview with ESPN that his motives were pure and that he would not go back if that is what people wanted. Rodman, speaking in a recent interview on camera with ESPN’s Mark Schwarz, said he was only tying to “do great things in life.” “I wish they understood the whole purpose of why I went to North Korea,” Rodman said. “I wish they did.”
Dennis Rodman checked into an alcohol-rehabilitation center to re-evaluate his life, not give up drinking. “I needed to decompress from all the things I was going through,” Rodman said Friday by phone from Miami. “I was trying to get this game going and get everything going in North Korea. “It was a lot.”
Anderson said he wants to help others not make the same mistakes he’s made, but showing up in North Korea with a band of ex-NBA misfits? Failing to even “Google” where he was going and who he was going to sign Happy Birthday to? Isn’t that a mistake he should have saved himself from? “It was a mistake,” he said. Anderson said he was met by US officials who wanted to debrief him after the trip, but wouldn’t go into details. I’m assuming they had the same questions about who funded the trip, exactly, if it wasn’t the North Korean government. “I wouldn’t talk about that. That’s a real dangerous situation,” he said. “I’m not a politician by no means. I went over there to be an ambassador of basketball. That’s what I’ve been doing since I retired. I didn’t want to get too deep into that.”
Anderson said he was not paid a stipend by Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un for his participation in a birthday-party pick-up game, which raises a question about who did pay the players. Anderson declined to say, but said he’s received widespread criticism for accompanying Rodman on the trip. And given what he knows now, Anderson said he wishes he wouldn’t have taken the journey. I wish he hadn’t either. “Me and Dennis do some things. We (both) live in Fort Lauderdale, and I do a lot of clinics and camps,” Anderson said. “He came and spoke at my camp for me. You can call me ignorant about the whole situation, but I didn’t do my diligence about North Korea. I just didn’t know. I didn’t know about the leader. I didn’t know anything too much about it. That’s where I was wrong.”
The prevailing theory goes that late last year Dennis Rodman assembled a band of desperate, out of work, ex-NBA bounty hunters who couldn’t pass up one last paycheck, even if it came from a violent, oppressive leader in North Korea. Not true, former NBA All-Star Kenny Anderson told me Wednesday. “I just didn’t know. I didn’t know,” he said of the trip to Pyongyang in January.
“I’ve always been a party animal,” Rodman said. But he said this is a great time for him to reflect publicly and put himself at peace with a “lot of stuff that has been going on” over the past 18 months. “I think for me, the reason I drink is because I’m bored,” he said.
Rodman says he didn’t mean to insinuate during an earlier interview this month that he knew why Bae, a Korean-American, was being held in North Korea. “To this day I still don’t know what he did,” Rodman said, even offering to take Bae’s place if he could. “I feel for (Bae’s family). I feel for them deeply. … I would do anything literally. This is Dennis Rodman talking. If they (North Korea) said, ‘We’ll take Dennis Rodman and we’ll let Kenenth Bae go,’ I’ll say, ‘You know what? I’ll do that. … Take me.'”
The former basketball player is probably the American with the most access to the North Korean leader, and many have been critical that he has not lobbied for the release of American prisoner Kenneth Bae from a labor camp. “I’m not an ambassador, and I tried to strive and tell people, just because I know the marshal (Kim), that doesn’t mean I know the marshal like that,” he said.
Jackson also opined on Rodman’s recent disastrous trip to North Korea. “I was hoping that Dennis would kind of help us open the door a little bit to North Korea,” Jackson said. “I mean, we really want to find peace with this country and if Dennis could have helped that I would have been really happy for that.”
So when something bizarre like the junket to North Korea transpires, you can only get so mad at someone with whom you share such a rare kinship. Players may square off in the moment—think Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony—but the point of contention invariably fades in the face of their unique shared place in the universe. That goes for ex-players as well, apparently. Robinson, for example, takes full responsibility for going and says his friendship with Rodman remains intact. “I’m not going to blame Dennis because I went on the trip knowing there was going to be some fallout,” Robinson said. “I looked at it as a chance to touch people through basketball and visit a country that doesn’t allow a lot of people in. The mention of a birthday is when it got uncomfortable. It was unfortunate all the politics got dragged into it. As far as what we went over there to accomplish, aside from Dennis’ agenda, we did what we set out to do.”
Robinson and several other Rodman contemporaries agreed to put on a basketball clinic and exhibition game in what is officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea earlier this month. It wasn’t until they landed in the capital of Pyongyang that they discovered they would be performing for the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, as a birthday gift. “I don’t think anyone other than Dennis knew,” said Robinson, who played 19 NBA seasons, the last one in 2006-07 with the New Jersey Nets. “We thought we were going to do something good. We heard some of the backlash right away from our family back home. The range of emotions (among the players) were crazy. We’re thinking, ‘What are we doing here?’ It was definitely a trying four days.”
Dennis Rodman reportedly brought thousands of dollars in luxury gifts to Kim Jong Un for his birthday. Now, Washington’s looking into whether those gifts violated U.S. sanctions. Dennis Rodman was already having a rotten month, between the trip to rehab and the global condemnation for cozying up to a dictator. Now things may be about to get much worse. The U.S. Treasury Department is investigating whether he violated the law that prohibits the importing of luxury goods into North Korea. On his third and most recent trip to Pyongyang this month, Rodman reportedly brought several gifts for the young Kim’s 31st birthday. They allegedly included hundreds of dollars’ worth of Irish Jameson whiskey, European crystal, an Italian suit, a fur coat, and an English Mulberry handbag for Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju.
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.”
Dennis Rodman has checked into an undisclosed alcohol rehabilitation center to treat his long-time struggle with alcoholism, his agent says. Darren Prince declined on Saturday to say which facility will treat Rodman and how long he will be there. Rodman recently returned to the United States from his latest trip to North Korea.
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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.”
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.”
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.
Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea with some fellow former NBAers to play a game for Kim Jong-Un’s birthday. David Stern does not approve. “The NBA is not involved with Mr. Rodman’s North Korea trip and would not participate or support such a venture without the approval of the U.S. State Department,” Stern said in a statement. “Although sports in many instances can be helpful in bridging cultural divides, this is not one of them.”
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.”