Tired of people asking him about his relationship with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Dennis Rodman erupted with a profanity-laden tirade directed against CNN’s Chris Cuomo. After a tense, near-20-minute interview, what triggered Rodman’s explosion was Cuomo’s question about whether he would address Kim’s imprisonment of Kenneth Bae, an American held for over a year in the country.
Rodman, who has called Kim “a friend for life,” seemed at first to justify Bae’s imprisonment by asking Cuomo if he knew what Bae had done. Cuomo replied that the North Korean government has yet to give a reason for the imprisonment; Rodman then said he “would love to speak on this,” before changing the subject. The Hall of Famer later called on critics to recognize the sacrifice that he and the other NBA players had to make to leave their families to make the trip.
As Cuomo continued to press him on the issue, a cigar-wielding Rodman lost it. “I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think,” Rodman yelled.
“You’re the guy behind the mic right now — we’re the guys here doing one thing,” he continued. “We have to go back to America — do you have to take the abuse that we’re going to take?!”
Charles D. Smith, one of the former players accompanying Rodman, assured Cuomo that there was no political message or element to their trip. “We’re not here to talk politics, so outside of that, any questions that come back through that is baiting us to get into politics,” he said.
Along with Smith, Rodman brought over six other former NBA players to take part in an exhibition game for Kim’s birthday this week.