How NBA star Dennis Rodman came to stand between the world and nuclear war

It says a lot about the world that the only human on good terms with both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un is a former basketball player

2017 has become the year when absurd gags appear to be coming true. When Dennis Rodman constructed his first journey to North Korea back in 2013, it was amusing to imagine the eccentric NBA legend acting as the United States’ de facto ambassador to the country. The notion was as preposterous as Donald Trump somehow being elected president.

It audios surreal, but with tensions rising between the two countries thanks to North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons program, there’s a very real potential that Rodman, a man who once married himself, ends up playing a key role in preventing armageddon. Rodman himself surely believes he will. In an interview with Good Morning Britain, the five-time NBA champion offered to” straighten things out” between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, to emphasise he holds both men friends.

Rodman, along with a group of journalists from Vice, first visited North Korea in 2013 after an invitation from Kim. It turns out that the Northern korean leader grew up a fan of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls teams from the 1990 s. Rodman, one of the best defensive players of the epoch, was a key figure on those squads, although ultimately he received far more attention for his( literally) colorful antics than his formidable basketball skills.

Rodman stood out on the court with his dyed hair and numerous penetrates. Off the court, he moved from disagreement to controversy, fueled by a near-limitless need for attention. Rodman dated several celebrities, most famously Madonna and Carmen Electra, appeared in terrible action movies, posed in wedding dresses and coffins to promote his tell-all volumes and became a tabloid fixture thanks to his self-destructive behavior. He was once even a candidate on Celebrity Apprentice, where Trump fired him for misspelling the name of the future first lady.

Because of his history, few took his” basketball diplomacy” trip-up to North Korea very seriously. If they did, it was to criticize Rodman for participating in what was, at least partially, propaganda meant to humanize one of the world’s most notorious dictators. When Rodman proclaimed that he and Kim were” friends for life ,” one wondered whether he had set any believed to be the people his new best friend had jailed or executed.

June 2017: Dennis Rodman hoping to’ open a doorway’ with another North Korea visit

To Rodman’s credit, it turned out to be something more than a one-time publicity stunt. He made additional trips to North Korea and unavoidably found himself in the middle of international incidents. In 2014, Rodman depicted harsh criticism by suggesting that North Korea had a valid reason to keep American missionary Kenneth Bae locked up. Bae would later claim that Rodman’s comments indirectly lead to his release:” Because of his rant, the media attention to my plight was increased .”( Rodman, who would subsequently apologize, entered rehab in the consequences of the the disagreement .)

Earlier this year Rodman’s agent said that his client helped convince North Korea to release American college student Otto Warmbier before his death. Now, nearly everyone else involved with Warmbier’s release has denied that Rodman had much to do with it, but the mere fact that he was in position to take credit is proof enough that he has become the unlikely face of US-North Korean relations. As North Korea expert Ken Gause said to Time that” he’s not the best diplomat we could have but it’s who we have .”

In just about any other situation, Gause would be correct in describing Rodman as an utterly inappropriate diplomat- as the man himself acknowledges “[ Kim and I] ride ponies, we hang out, we go skiing, we hardly ever talk politics and that’s the good thing .” Rodman also basically lacks the tact and restraint required in most diplomatic situations, and has a tendency to make events all about himself.

Oddly enough, all of these traits might induce Rodman the perfect diplomat to North Korea. These are characteristics he shares with both Trump and Kim, which could go a long way to explaining how he became the only high profile someone with a direct line to both leaders.

What induces the current situation between the United States and North Korea so unpredictable is that it’s a nuclear stalemate without a rational performer on either side. No one has a realistic notion of how to deal with North Korea’s growing nuclear program, every alternative seem to be either be ineffectual or potentially catastrophic. It’s also obvious that the Trump administration seems far more open to using nuclear weapon than any of the previous ones. There’s no obvious solution.

Is it likely that a distressed basketball legend/ terrible actor/ reality present star was likely to end up helping to avert a nuclear war? Likely not. It is worth dedicating him a shot? Well, why not? Could it only be magical reasoning? Well yes, but considering everything that has happened in the last year, it’s foolish to rule out any event , no matter how preposterous.

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