NBA commissioner David Stern emphasized that the the Dennis Rodman–led group of former players traveling to North Korea to play for Kim Jong Un’s birthday is not being sanctioned by the league. He chalked up the bizarre situation to Rodman’s equally outlandish personality.
“Dennis will be Dennis,” Stern told CNN.
Stern said the NBA will only travel to North Korea after collaborating with the State Department; it’s been to the country for events with the Iranian and Chinese national teams. He applauded “sports diplomacy,” but said Rodman’s trip is not an effective or responsible example of the practice.
He suspected that other players joined Rodman in the trip because they were “blinded by the payday” from the North Korean government.
At the end of the segment, much to Stern’s surprise, Wolf Blitzer reported that the North Korean government had originally asked Michael Jordan to come to the country, but he declined. When former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright visited North Korea in 2000, she brought Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il an NBA basketball signed by Michael Jordan, as a gift.