With relations seeming to thaw between North and South Korea, former NBA star Dennis Rodman says he wants credit for bringing the two nations together.
The Hall of Fame player told TMZ that he helped North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un come to his apparent newfound interest in dealing with western leaders, after new summits between north and south were announced.
The flamboyant player told TMZ he thinks Kim Jong Un has had a “change of heart:”
I think that his impression about Donald Trump and the American people, I think he’s had a change of heart. I think when I went over the last time for his birthday, I gave him one of Donald Trump’s books. I do a lot of things with Donald Trump and stuff like that, and I think people know that. I think you have the video of me giving him books and telling him about Donald Trump and about Americans, I think he didn’t realize who Donald Trump was at that time, I guess, until he started to read the book and started to get to understand him, stuff like that.
I don’t want to take all the credit. I don’t want to sit there and say, ‘I did this, I did that.’ That’s not my intention. My intention was to go over and be a sports ambassador to North Korea, so people understand how the people are in North Korea. I think that has resonated to this whole point now.
And Donald Trump, I don’t ask Donald Trump for anything. I like Donald Trump. He’s a good friend, and I’ve always asked him to talk to me because the people of North Korea and the government over there asked me to talk to Donald Trump about what they want and how we could solve things.
Rodman has been a frequent visitor to the despotic North Korean leader’s palaces. But Trump himself even once called the former Chicago Bulls player a “crazy” person.
Crazy Dennis Rodman is saying I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Never discussed, no interest, last place on Earth I want to go to.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2014
Similarly, the president has not reduced pressure on the North Koreans and has demanded that Kim give up his nuclear ambitions and frequently calling him “rocket man” for his constant nuclear tests.
Rodman, though, has persisted in his praise of the North Korean ruler. As far back as 2013, the NBA legend refused to apologize for praising Kim and even called him a “great guy.” Rodman’s gushing over Kim was so galling to some NBA fans that a petition was started to have him removed from the NBA Hall of Fame.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.