POSTED: Saturday, July 6, 2013 - 12:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, July 6, 2013 - 12:04am
Former Chicago Bulls' basketball player Dennis Rodman thinks he should be in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize following his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier this year.
In Sports Illustrated's annual "Where Are They Now" issue, the hall of famer applauds Kim Jong Un for what could be called restraint on behalf of the reclusive leader. "Fact is, he hasn't bombed anywhere he's threatened to yet. Not South Korea, not Hawaii, not ... whatever," Rodman said.
Rodman has become as well-known, and perhaps as infamous, off the court as he was on it. Nicknamed "the Worm," the eccentric player known for his hair and his outlandish outfits made a highly publicized trip to North Korea in February where he and Kim Jong Un bonded over a shared love of basketball. Afterward, Rodman was quoted as calling Kim Jong Un a "friend for life."
Now, Rodman thinks that fondness for the sport is what should help bridge the gap between the United States and the enigmatic nuclear power.
"All I know is Kim told me he doesn't want to go to war with America. His whole deal is to talk basketball with Obama," Rodman is quoted as saying in Sports Illustrated. "Unfortunately, Obama doesn't want to have anything to do with him. I ask, Mr. President, what's the harm in a simple phone call? This is a new age, man. Come on, Obama, reach out to Kim and be his friend."
Rodman's trip was organized for a documentary being produced by Vice for HBO television (CNN and HBO share Time Warner as a parent company).
In befriending Kim Jong Un, Rodman sees himself as a peacemaker deserving of recognition like that bestowed upon President Obama, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, the Nobel Peace Prize.
"My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries," Rodman said. "Why it's been left to me to smooth things over, I don't know. Dennis Rodman, of all people. Keeping us safe is really not my job; it's the black guy's [Obama's] job. But I'll tell you this: If I don't finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something's seriously wrong."
Rodman has already asked Kim Jong Un to "do me a solid" and release Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary who led tours into North Korea. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor, accused of plotting to overthrow the government.
Rodman isn't done with North Korea, planning a return trip next month. "I'm just gonna chill, play some basketball and maybe go on vacation with Kim and his family," Rodman said.