Former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s recent trip to North Korea brought a lot of media attention, as he took a team of former legends to the secretive nation to face the country’s national side.
Outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern revealed to the media in his final press conference outside of the United States that wasn’t invited to North Korea to at least watch the game.
“[Rodman] didn’t invite me to go with him,” Stern joked. “Had he, I probably would have declined. Because I think that those things are best undertaken in coordination with the government to make sure that the right protocols are followed and sports diplomacy is used at its highest and best level as we have tried to use.”
Stern, who leaves his post officially on February 1, then turned the answer into something more personal, saying that while there is a need to globalise basketball, he is not in favour of the other events that go on in North Korea. “Birthday parties for dictators that torture, kill, starve, develop missiles and bombs, not so much, and that’s my thought,” he said.
Adam Silver, soon-to-be-NBA Commissioner added: “As negative as that trip was in so many ways it also brought attention to a critical issue in North Korea that, most Americans hadn’t focused on at all in terms of a repressive regime,”
Rodman, a former NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls is the highest profile celebrity to visit North Korea, where its leader, Kim Jong-un is rumoured to be a big basketball fan.