Former NBA star Dennis Rodman apologized Thursday for an outburst on CNN during which he launched into an expletive-laden rant against a TV anchor and implied that an American being held by North Korea was at fault for his captivity.
Rodman brought six fellow retired NBA players to the country for an exhibition basketball game Wednesday with North Koreans at which he sang “Happy Birthday” to leader Kim Jong Un, who turned 31.
The trip has drawn criticism from human rights advocates and some members of Congress. The critics are concerned that the purported goodwill gesture sends the wrong message to a ruthless dictatorship that has threatened the United States and its regional allies with nuclear annihilation. The National Basketball Assn. and its retired players' affiliate have said they do not support the venture.
During an interview broadcast this week on CNN's "New Day," anchor Chris Cuomo asked Rodman whether he would use the visit to raise the case of Kenneth Bae, a Korean American tour guide and evangelist who has been imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year on charges of "hostile acts against the state."
“Do you understand what he did in this country?" Rodman responded. When Cuomo asked him to explain, Rodman turned on the anchor.
“I want to apologize,” Rodman said in a statement released Thursday, in which he admitted to have been drinking before the CNN interview. “It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dreams of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart.”
Here is the full statement sent to the Los Angeles Times by Rodman’s publicist, Jules Feiler:
“I want to apologize. I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dreams of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart. I had been drinking. It's not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It's not an excuse, it's just the truth. I want to first apologize to Kenneth Bae's family. I want to apologize to my teammates and my management team. I also want to apologize to Chris Cuomo. I embarrassed a lot of people. I'm very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I'm truly sorry.”