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Mixed reactions to Rodman visit to North Korea

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Everyone always seems to have an opinion about Dennis Rodman, the one-of-a-kind former NBA rebounding and defensive ace. Of course, his visit to North Korea last week, one of the more bizarre stories in recent memory, did nothing to stop the chatter.

Those with ties, past and present, to the bj-league also got in on the discussion about Rodman’s trip and time spent with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Gunma Crane Thunders coach Ryan Blackwell said, “Most things can be settled and bettered by more communication. I’m all for Rodman going there … regardless of his image or background. North Korea is a dangerous and unstable country, so if it helps to open up better lines of communication with the U.S. and the rest of the world, then I’m all for it.”

Indeed, Rodman and Kim were seen smiling in photographs snapped during a basketball exhibition, which included Harlem Globetrotters players, that have circulated to every corner of the earth.

To say these photos grabbed people’s attention is stating the obvious. Nevertheless, not everyone is ready to state that Rodman, who won five NBA championship rings, made a colossal mistake by visiting North Korea.

Former Chiba Jets coach Eric Gardow said, “Regardless of culture, religion or race, sport, and especially basketball, will always be a common denominator.”

Brian Rowsom, ex-NBA forward and former Oita HeatDevils coach, offered this perspective: I am honestly at a loss for words about that whole situation.” Rowsom now coaches in Qatar.

Bob Hill, who guided the now-defunct Tokyo Apache during the 2010-11 campaign, isn’t ready to condemn Rodman for his visit.

“Dennis is doing an excellent job of staying busy and in the media post-NBA (career),” Hill, a former NBA bench boss, wrote in an email from the United States. “You never know, he may have helped our relationship with North Korea.”

Shimane Susanoo Magic coach Zeljko Pavlicevic, who hails from Croatia, said he sees parallels between Rodman’s visit and the U.S.-Chinese ping-pong diplomacy of the early 1970s.

Pavlicevic called Rodman’s visit “a very good way to make (an) informal connection. The president of North Korea loves basketball.

“(This is) the same, still new participants, and sport is good for a start.”
Conversely, Yokohama B-Corsairs coach Reggie Geary had this to say about Rodman: “He embarrassed himself.”
Osaka Evessa head coach Bill Cartwright, who played and serve as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls during the 1990s when Rodman was a part of the team’s dynasty, declined to comment on Tuesday.