In a stunning display of U.S. diplomacy and basketball ambassadorship, one of the greatest defenders and arguably the greatest rebounder in professional basketball history made an unprecedented trip to North Korea.
Dennis Rodman, better known as “The Worm,” is traveling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with three members of the Harlem Globetrotters, in what seems like an episode of Scooby Doo, to star in a VICE Media HBO documentary to air in April, said Vice founder Shane Smith to the AP.
“Is sending the Harlem Globetrotters and Dennis Rodman to the DPRK strange? In a word, yes,” said Smith, who is hosting the documentary.
But this is only as strange as North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un deems it to be. The youthful leader of the Hermit Kingdom, it has been reported, was a Chicago Bulls fan from the 1990s, when Rodman aided Michael Jordan to a second string of three straight world championships. In Rodman’s first season, his 1996 Bulls team finished 72-10, the best record in league history. According to Rodman, before the Bulls traded for Rodman, the deal had to be approved by Jordan and teammate Scottie Pippen. If the Worm is good enough for MJ and Pippen, he’s good enough for the Supreme Leader.
Rodman is no stranger to world traveling, having jet-setted from Finland to the Philippines to play hoops. Joining forces with the Globetrotters to tour the courts of a charter member of the Axis of Evil doesn’t even rank on the Hall of Famer’s list of accomplishments. Rodman was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, earned 11 straight rebounding titles, and finished his a career averaging 13.1 rebounds per game. He’s the commissioner of the Lingerie Football League, he fought side-by-side with Hulk Hogan, and he was married to Carmen Electra.
Rodman is sure to stand out among the militaristic and conformist North Koreans. Renowned as a legendary partier and ‘bad boy,’ Rodman’s body is adorned with ornate tattoos and piercings. On a promotion tour for his autobiography “Bad as I Wanna Be,” Rodman appeared in a wedding dress. In photos previewing the Pyongyang tour, a North Korean exclaimed: “He looks like a monster!” John Stockton and Karl Malone would agree.
The Democratic People’s Republic recently launched a rocket, leading to speculation that the nation is close to developing nuclear ICBMs that can reach the United States.
The Worm, though, if he wanted to, could probably intimidate the North Koreans into ending their nuclear program altogether.