Media spotlight puts unattractive glare on Dennis Rodman


I don’t know about the rest of America, but I don’t really want my country’s spokesman to be a guy with a shady past who has about a dozen facial piercings and graffiti-esque hair. And while Dennis “The Worm” Rodman is addicted to the spotlight, I blame the news media for putting him in it and pretending the crazy ex-basketball player will behave like a statesman.

Rodman’s latest antics include singing “Happy Birthday” to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un and dragging his old NBA buddies to the communist nation to play a pickup game for the supreme leader.

But my question is: Why is this news? And, admittedly, I also have to ask: Why couldn’t Dennis Rodman have just retired from basketball peacefully? The more you read about Rodman’s history, the more you think, “Man, this guy’s kind of insane.”

I’m personally a big fan of Rodman as a player; he’s the former 7x Rebound champion and was known for his incredible hustle. But his off-court decisions make me think twice about my fanhood. I can deal with the tattoos, piercings and colorful hair. Those gave him personality on the court and contributed to his “bad-boy, hard-nosed” image. But Rodman’s first large-scale public “incident” was when he decided to wear a wedding dress and full make-up to his book signing in 1996.

But even that doesn’t trouble me as much as his recent escapades. If you happen to flip to a CNN broadcast, chances are you’ll see Rodman’s name on the screen. Apparently he thought it’d be a good idea to become “besties” with arguably the craziest, most ruthless and most oppressive leader in the world.

Many are criticizing Rodman for not using his influence in North Korea to help release American missionary Kenneth Bae from a labor camp. “It’s not my fault. I just want to do some good stuff, that’s all I want to do,” Rodman said in a recent interview. I think “The Worm” and his team of former NBA stars did a good job of defending their trip to North Korea as being about basketball and cultural exchange and not about politics. Check out the CNN story, and you’ll see that Rodman’s teammates make some very good points. Even Rodman (despite yelling at the CNN interviewer) says something intelligent. They explain that their trip wasn’t planned in order to question the ruler of North Korea.

And I agree. Their trip was designed to try to make a bridge between the United States and North Korea through the sport of basketball. And look what it has done: Some American citizens have been able to enter North Korea, talk to Kim Jong-Un and play an exhibition game with North Korean citizens. People keep bringing up and making fun of Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” comment, but that’s exactly what his multiple trips are doing.

In addition, I’m defending the stance that Rodman should NOT question why Kenneth Bae is being held prisoner. Why should people want Dennis Rodman to be an ambassador and speak for the U.S.? What makes anyone think that Kim Jong-Un would tell him anyway? Rodman could get himself imprisoned for even asking.

Now I know that Rodman is an idiot for supporting Kim Jong-Un, but Rodman has made a living since the early ’90s saying and doing bizarre things. It seems as if the media keeps poking him with a stick to get him to have another outburst so they have material for the 6 o’clock news.

My point is that, yes, Dennis Rodman is absolutely messed up in the head. But people have to realize that he isn’t a high-ranking government official. It isn’t his responsibility to help out Kenneth Bae. It would seem like a nice gesture, but I honestly don’t think Rodman could sway the mind of the craziest leader in the world.

But hey, crazy people like crazy people, so you never know.