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Rodman team for DPRK named

Updated: 2014-01-06 07:22
By Associated Press ( China Daily)

Dennis Rodman has named a team of former National Basketball Association players to participate in an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Rodman leads a team that includes former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith are on the team, as well. They will play against a top DPRK national team on Wednesday, marking DPRK leader Kim Jong-un's birthday.

Rodman is the highest profile American to meet Kim since the leader inherited power after his father died in late 2011.

Rodman calls the game his version of "basketball diplomacy".

Rodman team for DPRK named

"My previous travels have allowed me to feel the enthusiasm and warmth of fans," Rodman said. "The positive memories and smiles on the faces of the children and families are a testament to the great efforts we have put into fulfilling our mission wherever we go voiding any politics. We are all looking forward to arriving in Pyongyang, meeting the citizens, visiting various charities and using the opportunity to develop new relationships that result in our annual return."

Rodman made his latest visit to the DPRK shortly before Christmas to train the national basketball team, though he did not meet with Kim. Rodman, known as much for his piercings, tattoos and bad behavior as he was for his basketball skills, traveled to the country for the first time last February with the Harlem Globetrotters for a HBO series produced by New York-based VICE television. Rodman has called Kim a "friend for life".

Rodman said his trips would not be affected by the recent execution of Kim's uncle.

Smith, who played for the New York Knicks, said he was looking forward to participating in the game with Rodman.

"Dennis and I are total opposites but we work very well together," Smith said. "Dennis is one of the few people I know that doesn't just talk but actually lives a culturally diverse life. We have traveled everywhere together so I was not surprised with his first visit to North Korea.

"Cultural exchange is about sharing. Sharing ideas and thoughts on education, culture and life."

(China Daily 01/06/2014 page24)