Dennis Rodman's days of basketball diplomacy are over. The former NBA star tells ESPN he won't return to North Korea, but insisted the motives behind his controversial trips to the rogue nation were good.
"At least someone tried," the retired NBA player says. "So that’s how I look at it. 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.
"I don’t want people to look at me as the devil or evil person," he adds. "If I put anyone in harm's way, I apologize, you know. If you don’t want me to go back there ever again, I won’t go back."
The emotional apology comes nearly two months after Rodman and other retired NBA players visited North Korea to play an exhibition basketball game in celebration of Kim Jong-un's birthday. Rodman was criticized for his friendship with the North Korean leader and was widely ridiculed after he sang "Happy Birthday" to the dictator.
Rodman added in the interview that his quotes about Kenneth Bae, an American citizen detained in North Korea, were taken completely out of context and said he didn’t know about the situation. In an interview on CNN during his last trip to North Korea, Rodman appeared to be telling Chris Cuomo that Bae was guilty of undisclosed crimes.
"The one thing people took out of context was it's the way you said, 'Do you know what he did? Do you know what he did? Know what he did?' I said, 'No, do you know what he did?' I didn’t know what the hell he did," Rodman said. The controversy-courting athlete later claimed he was intoxicated during the interview, and checked himself into rehab for alcoholism shortly after.
Rodman said that he believed in his four trips he had gotten a view of the North Korean leader’s ability to open his country to the 21st century.
"I know truly in my heart something's going to happen," Rodman said. "If it does happen, watch all of these people kiss my a**."
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(Photo: AP Photo/Kyodo News)