Dennis Rodman has sung Happy Birthday to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un in front of a crowd of thousands in Pyongyang.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman said Kim Jong-un, who was in the audience with his wife and other senior officials, was his “best friend”.
Dennis Rodman is on his fourth North Korean visit to mark Kim Jon-un’s birthday with a basketball match.
Dennis Rodman has sung Happy Birthday to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un in front of a crowd of thousands in Pyongyang
He has angrily defended his visit after criticism from rights groups. The US said Dennis Rodman does not represent the country.
The crowd of about 14,000 at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium clapped and waved as Dennis Rodman sang Happy Birthday on Wednesday, the Associated Press news agency says.
Dennis Rodman is with a team of former National Basketball Association (NBA) players who played an exhibition match. He said the match was to celebrate Kim Jong-un’s birthday, although the leader’s official birthday and age have not been confirmed.
Dennis Rodman has said that he was on a “basketball diplomacy” mission in North Korea. He remains the highest-profile American to have met Kim Jong-un.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has angrily defended his visit to North Korea, ahead of a basketball game to mark Kim Jong-un’s birthday.
In an interview with CNN, Dennis Rodman was asked if he would raise the issue of a US citizen jailed in North Korea.
Dennis Rodman responded with a rant that at one point appeared to point blame at the man, Kenneth Bae.
His visit has been criticized by rights groups, with Washington making it clear he does not represent the US.
His team of former NBA players will take on a North Korean team in an exhibition match later on Wednesday in Pyongyang.
Dennis Rodman says the match is to celebrate Kim Jong-un’s birthday, although his official birthday and age have not been confirmed.
It comes weeks after the execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Sung-taek, once seen as a major power in North Korea. His rapid and brutal purge has sparked concern over stability inside the country.
Dennis Rodman has angrily defended his visit to North Korea, ahead of a basketball game to mark Kim Jong-un’s birthday
Meanwhile, state news agency KCNA has announced that elections for North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament will be held on March 9 – something which could provide a hint of who the key players are in the wake of Jang Sung-taek’s execution.
This visit is Dennis Rodman’s fourth to North Korea. He has in the past described Kim Jong-un as a friend and says he is on a “basketball diplomacy” mission. He remains the highest-profile American to have met the young leader.
Dennis Rodman had been asked several times in the past whether he could use his relationship with Kim Jong-un to discuss Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in May 2013.
North Korea said that Kenneth Bae – described as both a tour operator and Christian missionary – had used his tourism business to plot sedition.
Asked again in the CNN interview, Dennis Rodman appeared to lose his cool, saying: “If you understand what Kenneth Bae did … Do you understand what he did in this country? … I would love to speak on this.”
Dennis Rodman’s visit was about opening “the door a little bit”, he said, even though the team would have “to go back to America and take the abuse”.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on Dennis Rodman’s remarks, but reiterated a call for North Korea to release Kenneth Bae – who is suffering from ill health – on humanitarian grounds.
Former NBA star Charles D. Smith, meanwhile, told the Associated Press news agency that he felt “remorse” for participating in the trip amid the backlash in the US.
“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.”
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has arrived in North Korea along with a team for a match marking leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday.
Dennis Rodman, 52, and the team of former NBA players flew from Beijing on Monday ahead of Wednesday’s match.
The sportsman said his aim was to “connect two countries”.
State Department officials have made it clear Dennis Rodman does not represent the US.
Dennis Rodman has also been strongly criticized for ignoring North Korea’s human rights abuses.
Dennis Rodman has arrived in North Korea along with a team for a match marking leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday
He last visited North Korea in December, shortly after the execution of Jang Sung-taek.
The fall of Kim Jong-un’s once-powerful uncle was seen as a major shake-up at the very top of Pyongyang’s elite.
On that visit, Dennis Rodman’s third, he did not meet Kim Jong-un, who is reported to be a basketball fan. He has met the young leader on his other two previous visits, however, and is the highest-profile American to have done so.
This time, Dennis Rodman leads a squad of players on a trip he is describing as “basketball diplomacy”. The squad will play a North Korean team in an exhibition match.
Dennis Rodman’s unprecedented access to North Korea’s young leader has drawn questions over the impact of his visits to a country criticized for its repressive system of brutal political prison camps.
Dennis Rodman has unveiled the team of former NBA players to play an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea, this month.
Dennis Rodman will lead the team that includes former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith are on the team, as well. They will play against a top North Korean senior national team on Wednesday, January 8th, marking Kim Jong-un’s birthday.
The former NBA star is the highest profile American to meet Kim Jong-un since the leader inherited power from his father in late 2011.
Dennis Rodman calls the game his version of ”basketball diplomacy.”
”My previous travels have allowed me to feel the enthusiasm and warmth of fans,” he said.
”The positive memories and smiles on the faces of the children and families are a testament to the great efforts we have put into fulfilling our mission wherever we go voiding any politics. We are all looking forward to arriving in Pyongyang, meeting the citizens, visiting various charities and using the opportunity to develop new relationships that result in our annual return.”
Dennis Rodman made his latest visit to North Korea shortly before Christmas to train the North Korean basketball team, though he did not meet with Kim Jong-un.
Dennis Rodman has unveiled the team of former NBA players to play an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang
He said his trips would not be affected by the recent execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle.
Charles D. Smith, who played for the New York Knicks, said he was looking forward to the game with Dennis Rodman.
”Dennis and I are total opposites, but we work very well together,” he said.
”Dennis is one of the few people I know that doesn’t just talk but actually lives a culturally diverse life. We have traveled everywhere together, so I was not surprised with his first visit to North Korea.
”Cultural exchange is about sharing. Sharing ideas and thoughts on education, culture and life.”
Irish betting company Paddy Power PLC, a driving force behind the exhibition, removed its name last month as the title sponsor. The company is still financing the trip and is honoring all contractual commitments.
Dennis Rodman has been criticized for not talking about North Korea’s human rights record, described as one of the world’s worst by activists, the US State Department and North Korean defectors.
In a new song, Kanye West blamed Chicago Bulls for ending Michael Jordan’s career.
At his Yeezus concert in Chicago’s United Center this week, Kanye West added in a special tribute to the NBA star, harping on his main point: “We should’ve never ever let Michael Jordan play for the Wizards.”
After retiring in 1999, Michael Jordan returned to the league a year later as part owner of the Washington Wizards – a team he’d suit up for in 2001.
“Why did that happen?” Kanye West chanted.
Kanye West blamed Chicago Bulls ownership for their decision.
“When a player that made the NBA wants to become an owner of the team that he brought so much glory to, a team he brought so much story to/a team that has his statue in the front of the m———ing building/But do you know what the owners of that team told MJ? You’re just a player, homeboy,” the rapper sang.
“I’m talking about one of the most important people in our civilization,” Kanye West concluded.
“And in order to make his point he had to put on a m———ing Wizards jersey.”
Kanye West blamed Chicago Bulls for ending Michael Jordan’s career
“Til I die, MJ represents the Bulls,” Kanye West finished.
Dennis Rodman held tryouts Friday for a North Korean team to face a dozen NBA veterans in an exhibition game on leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday on January 8th, 2014.
However, the former NBA star hasn’t convinced all the players on the American team that it’s safe to come to Pyongyang.
Dennis Rodman said plans for the January 8th game are moving ahead but some of the 12 Americans he wants are afraid to come.
Some foreign analysts say the dramatic purge and execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle less than a week ago has cast doubt on Kim’s future. But officials here say there is no instability and Kim Jong-un remains firmly in control.
“You know, they’re still afraid to come here, but I’m just telling them, you know, don’t be afraid man, it’s all love, it’s all love here,” Dennis Rodman told The Associated Press after the tryouts at the Pyongyang Indoor Gymnasium.
“I understand what’s going on with the political stuff, and I say, I don’t go into that venture, I’m just doing one thing for these kids here, and for this country, and for my country, and for the world pretty much.”
Dennis Rodman, who arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday, said he expects to announce the roster soon. He also said he is planning another game in June.
Dennis Rodman held tryouts for North Korean team to face NBA veterans in an exhibition game on Kim Jong-un’s birthday
He watched as a couple dozen local players took to the basketball court for the tryouts. After the session, he told the players that each of the 12 he chooses will get two new pairs of tennis shoes.
When asked why he liked basketball, North Korean player Kim Un-chol told Dennis Rodman he started playing the game because he was impressed by it on TV, and said he also wants to be good at the sport because it is a favorite of leader Kim Jong-un and his late father, Kim Jong-il.
Dennis Rodman asked all the players if they felt the same way. They nodded in unison.
“I want you guys to do one thing for your leader,” Dennis Rodman then told them.
“It’s his birthday. It’s a very special, special day for the country.”
Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un have struck up an unlikely friendship since he traveled to North Korea for the first time in February with the Harlem Globetrotters for an HBO series produced by New York-based VICE television.
The former NBA player remains the highest-profile American to meet Kim Jong-un since the leader inherited power from his father in 2011.
Dennis Rodman has mostly avoided politics in his dealings with North Korea and has avoided commenting on the North’s human rights record or its continued detainment of American Kenneth Bae for allegedly committing anti-state crimes.
On Friday, he stressed that he hopes the game will be friendly, without political or nationalistic overtones.
Dennis Rodman said the former NBA players will take on the North Koreans in the first half, but the teams will be mixed for the second half.
“It’s not about win or loss. It’s about one thing – unite two countries,” he said.
NBA legend Walt Bellamy, who averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds in 14 seasons, died Saturday at the age of 74.
The Atlanta Hawks confirmed the death, but didn’t provide details.
The Hawks said Walt Bellamy attended the team’s home opener Friday night.
”Walt Bellamy was an enormously gifted Hall of Fame player who had a tremendous impact on our game,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement released by the league.
”Off the court, he was an even more extraordinary person. Walt is going to be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. On behalf of the entire NBA family, our condolences and thoughts go out to Walt’s family.”
Walt Bellamy, a former Indiana University star, won an Olympic gold medal in 1960 and was the first overall pick by the Chicago Packers in 1961. He was the rookie of the year with Chicago, averaging 31.6 points and 19.0 rebounds, and also played for the Baltimore Bullets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta and New Orleans Jazz. He played in four All-Star games and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
Walt Bellamy won an Olympic gold medal in 1960 and was the first overall pick by the Chicago Packers in 1961
”The Atlanta Hawks family is saddened to learn of the death of Walt Bellamy at the age of 74 earlier today,” the Hawks said in a statement.
‘’The Hawks and the National Basketball Association have lost a giant. As an Olympic gold medalist, the first overall pick in 1961, Rookie of the Year in 1962, a four-time All-Star and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, his on-court accomplishments were overwhelming. Off the court, he was equally impactful as a family man, leader in the community, mentor and friend to many.’’
Walt Bellamy was traded three times, going from the Bullets to the Knicks in November 1965 for Jim Barnes, Johnny Egan, Johnny Green and cash, then to Detroit along with Howard Komives in December 1968 in the deal that brought star forward Dave DeBusschere to New York. Detroit sent Walt Bellamy to Atlanta in February 1970 for John Arthurs.
In three seasons at Indiana, the 6-foot-11 former New Bern, N.C., Walt Bellamy averaged 20.6 points and 15.5 rebounds.