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North Korea wanted Jordan, eventually settled for Rodman

Retired U.S. NBA basketball player Rodman is welcomed by Son, Vice Chairman of North Korea's Olympic Committe, as he arrives in Pyongyang

Retired U.S. NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman is welcomed by Son Kwang-ho, Vice Chairman of North Korea’s Olympic Committe, as he arrives at an airport in Pyongyang in this still image taken from video, February 26, 2013. Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday to film a television documentary with representatives of the Harlem Globetrotters celebrity team, North Korean state television reported. REUTERS/KCNA for REUTERS TV (NORTH KOREA - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL POLITICS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Reuters

If you had to choose between Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman… why am I even asking this? We’d all make the same choice.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is the same way — he’s actually an NBA fan, particularly the 1990s Bulls just like his late father (Kim Jong Il). Seriously.

Vice Media sent a group to North Korea to do some basketball diplomacy (and make an HBO documentary slated for April), something welcomed by the usually closed North Korean government. Their first request was for one Michael Jordan nearly a decade ago, reported the San Diego Union Tribune (via the Washington Post).

The following year, Jordan’s management team was approached about the athlete making a goodwill trip to Pyongyang to meet Kim. The North Korean government, according to documents obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune, sent a letter authorizing the request, and Samsung, a South Korean electronics company interested in promoting reunification of the Koreas, had offered to underwrite the venture.

Jordan respectfully declined.


So they eventually went with another legendary Bulls player, Rodman.

And he and Kim hit it off, reports the Los Angeles Times.

According to a spokesman for the film crew, Rodman told Kim that “You have a friend for life.”

It’s Rodman. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.