Their quixotic odyssey brings them dollars and nationwide condemnation.
You understand the idiocy of Dennis Rodman, and no one who has followed the NBA closely can be surprised that he turned his bare backside and pointed it straight at the United States. Rodman has never cared about anything — except Dennis Rodman.
Other men, however, shouldn’t put themselves in the company of a loony. Yet that’s what former NBA players Kenny Anderson, Charles Smith, Cliff Robinson, Doug Christie and Vin Baker did when they tagged along with the mercurial Rodman and quixotic travel to Pyongyang, North Korea, to play basketball for dictator Kim Jong-un.
In what has been mistakenly called “basketball diplomacy,” Black men have sold their patriotism for a paycheck. Not just any Black men, but Black men who have college educations; Black men who have seen the world, who have sampled the best it has to offer; Black men who ought to know better.
Money has a way of leading men — Black and white — to places where they should not tread. North Korea is one of those places.
For few places on the planet are worse to call home than North Korea. The people there live in fear — fearful that the repressive regime of a 31-year-old tyrant will worsen, exposing them to more Draconian acts.
Kim proved how ruthless he was when, according various media reports, he fed his uncle, naked, to a pack of ravenous dogs. Kim’s actions have spoken well to a leader who has acted without reason.
Who will be the next man that Kim exacts his vengeance on?
Not that such political actions troubled Rodman or the motley crew of NBA fools who followed him there as if he were a Pied Piper. The men didn’t concern themselves with the political repercussions; they were simply mesmerized by Kim’s pile of dollar bills.
How much money must a man get to betray or disrespect his homeland? A million dollars? Two million?
Money opens people to evils and misconduct, and Rodman is guilty of at least one of these ills if not both.
Yet you expect Rodman to play the rebel with the shakiest of causes. He had never proved to be the steadiest of men, and he spent most of his adult life, after his early years playing the quiet sidekick to Detroit’s “Bad Boys,” chasing whatever spotlight someone turned on him.
He was Hollywood but not Hollywood. He was naïve but not naïve. He was, well, Dennis Rodman … a platinum-haired, tattooed contradiction. A clown. A public joke of a man.
That description explains Rodman. It tells anybody else who wants to know what makes a man so short on intellect step onto the political scene and expect to come away from it any smarter.
What explains Smith, Anderson, Baker & Co.?
Their answer was the same as the one Rodman offered. They used basketball and risked their reputations to grab a fistful of money, regardless of how much blood Kim and his ruthless regime spilled to provide it.
For their duplicity, they have earned public scorn, not public praise.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
BET Sports News -- Get the latest news and information about African-Americans in sports including weekly recaps, celebrity news and photos of your favorite Black athletes. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Follow Justice B. Hill on Twitter: @jbernardh
(Photo: AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)