Dennis Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” mission to North Korea appears to be ready for tipoff.
Rodman has unveiled the roster of fellow retired NBA players who have accompanied him to North Korea for the exhibition game, which is scheduled to take place Wednesday in celebration of ruler Kim Jong Un’s birthday. The group arrived in Pyongyang on Monday.
Former NBA all-stars Kenny Anderson, Vin Baker and Cliff Robinson will play alongside NBA alumni Doug Christie, “Sleepy” Floyd, Craig Hodges and Charles D. Smith against an all-star team from North Korea. Four other players from the United States also will be playing.
Rodman has made several highly publicized visits to North Korea since Kim assumed leadership of the country following his father’s death. He says the basketball game is an effort to “connect two countries together in the world.”
“Not every country in the world is that bad, especially North Korea,” Rodman told the Associated Press on Sunday.
U.S. officials have criticized Rodman’s efforts at diplomacy because the onetime NBA star has not confronted North Korean officials on the country’s human rights record or its nuclear weapons program.
“Somehow we have to get along, and no matter what disagreements or what discrepancy we have in life,” Rodman told the AP. “It’s like saying: Why do we have the Olympics? When everyone comes together in the Olympics, there’s no problems. That’s what I’m doing. That’s all I’m doing.”