Former NBA star Dennis Rodman announced the list of former basketball players who plan to travel to North Korea with him to play in an exhibition game for ruler Kim Jong Un’s birthday (January 8, 2014). The players include former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson (DUI in 2013), Cliff Robinson (DUI and series of suspensions due to drug use) and Vin Baker (DUI followed by foreclosed home in 2008), as well as ex-players Craig Hodges (sued the NBA in 1996 claiming he was blackballed for his association with Louis Farrakhan), Doug Christie (now a producer of adult films) and Charles D. Smith (who started a transition assistance program to help retired players pursue new careers).
The team will head to Pyongyang to play a North Korean senior national team in what Rodman calls “basketball diplomacy.” Smith, the only one without a history of DUI or drug abuse, said the trip was about cultural exchange. “Cultural exchange is about sharing. Sharing ideas and thoughts on education, culture and life,” he said. Rodman, who last visited North Korea in December to train the North Korean basketball team, said his trip would not be affected by the recent execution of Kim’s uncle.