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Dennis Rodman Apologizes for North Korea Outburst

By Shawn Dwyer 01/09/14

The former NBA starred said he was sorry about criticizing imprisoned American Kenneth Bae and blamed his callous remarks on booze.

Rodman "sings" to the oppressive dictator.
Photo via

Dennis Rodman, the former defensive all-star who won three championships with the Chicago Bulls, has never been one to shy away from controversy. But on his so-called basketball diplomacy trip to North Korea, the oft-troubled star recently caused pain and outrage for his callous remarks toward imprisoned American Kenneth Bae, whom Rodman said must have done something to deserve his 15-year sentence to hard labor.

"I want to first apologize to Kenneth Bae's family," Rodman said in a prepared statement. "I want to apologize to my teammates and my management team. I also want to apologize to [CNN’s] Chris Cuomo.” When the family first heard Rodman’s comments in an interview with CNN, they naturally were outraged. "He was in a position to do some good and to help advocate for Kenneth," said Bae’s sister Terri Chung. "He refused to do so. But then instead he has chosen to hurl these outrageous accusations against Kenneth. He clearly doesn't know anything about Kenneth, about his case. And so we were appalled by that."

Rodman’s bizarre trip to North Korea first captured attention for the basketball player’s off-key rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to dear leader Kim Jong Un. But it was his “incomprehensible” comments on CNN that sparked outrage among the family and the media. Rodman’s apology was released via email. "I had been drinking," he said. "It's not an excuse but by the time the interview happened, I was upset. I was overwhelmed."

For their part, Bae’s family accepted Rodman’s mea culpa in a written statement. "As Rodman has stated, being drunk and stressed is not an excuse for what he said, but we acknowledge he is human and we all do make mistakes," Chung said. "Our greatest concern remains the health and freedom of my brother Kenneth. We hope and pray that Rodman's comments and ongoing antics have not further endangered my brother. Kenneth's health and freedom are precarious."

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.

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