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Article updated: 3/3/2013 7:34 PM

Maybe we shouldn't discount Rodman's diplomatic powers

In this Sunday March 3, 2013, photo provided by ABC television “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, left, interviews former NBA star Dennis Rodman, just back from a visit with North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong Un, in studio in New York. Kim Jong Un doesn’t really want war with the superpower, just a call from President Barack Obama to chat about their shared love of basketball, says erstwhile diplomat Rodman.”He loves basketball. ... I said Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there” as a way to warm up relations between U.S. and North Korea”, Rodman said.

In this Sunday March 3, 2013, photo provided by ABC television "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos, left, interviews former NBA star Dennis Rodman, just back from a visit with North Korea's young leader Kim Jong Un, in studio in New York. Kim Jong Un doesn't really want war with the superpower, just a call from President Barack Obama to chat about their shared love of basketball, says erstwhile diplomat Rodman."He loves basketball. ... I said Obama loves basketball. Let's start there" as a way to warm up relations between U.S. and North Korea", Rodman said.

 

Associated Press

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch North Korean and U.S. players in an exhibition basketball game at an arena in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch North Korean and U.S. players in an exhibition basketball game at an arena in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

 

Associated Press

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch North Korean and U.S. players in an exhibition basketball game at an arena in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch North Korean and U.S. players in an exhibition basketball game at an arena in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

 

Associated Press

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Let's compile a list of things that always were difficult to envision.

The Cubs winning a World Series.

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Northwestern playing in the NCAA basketball tournament.

Distinguished panelists discussing Dennis Rodman on the Sunday morning network news programs.

The first two remain as remote as Manti Te'o's imaginary girlfriend, but you can cross off No. 3.

"I won't ask a question," Bob Schieffer giggled on CBS. "I'll just say two things: Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un."

That's what happens when Rodman, aka the Worm, worms his way into a trip to North Korea and buddies up to the country's dictator.

Rodman explained on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that "Kim loves basketball."

Seriously, jokes are written about this stuff. "Saturday Night Live" spoofed it. Others are crying and shaking their heads at the thought of Rodman, the nut job, the former bad boy of the NBA, of this guy of all guys inserting himself into sensitive world affairs.

What's next, North Koreans inviting Gallagher to sledgehammer watermelons on the streets of Pyongyang?

It's encouraging at least that the United States didn't dispatch Rodman to try to get Kim to stop testing nuclear weapons. The CIA must have intelligence that indicates the threat of Rodman head-butting the North Korea's commander-in-grief is too real.

Members of the Harlem Globetrotters joined Rodman on the trip to participate in the filming of a documentary. He went as a private citizen because, let's face it, nobody in his right mind would delegate him to represent Americans in a sit-down to discuss current events with Kim.

We wouldn't send someone to mediate talks between Israelis and Palestinians just because his name was Metta World Peace. Nor would we send someone to negotiate the release of hostages from a pirate ship just because his name was World Be Free.

(Come to think of it, why does it seem to always be NBA players who come up with these crazily creative names?)

Anyway, like it or not, Rodman went to North Korea and became pals with Kim and maybe the rest of us better try to make the best of this breach of sanity.

"I said (to Kim), '(President) Obama loves basketball,'" Rodman told Stephanopoulos. "Let's start there."

Yes, let's start there. Nothing else has persuaded Kim to quit testing nuclear weapons so we might as well explore this common ground: Kim Jong Un and Barack Obama are Bulls fans. Maybe they could meet without rattling sabers at anyone but the Miami Heat.

Rodman revealed on "This Week" that Kim wants Obama to call him. Instead, why doesn't the president travel to North Korea, play horse with the North Korean leader and attend a basketball game with Rodman positioned between them?

They can enjoy a beer together, toast the Bulls, compare scouting reports on Nate Robinson, maybe eat hot dogs made from Korean canine parts ... and, oh yeah, negotiate disarmament.

Obama: "I'll give you two Luc Longley trading cards and a Steve Kerr for all your nuclear warheads."

Kim: "No way, dude. I already have those guys in the spokes of my bicycle. How about a Jordan autographed basketball and a pair of Air Jordans for each of my kids?"

Obama: "I can get you the shoes and Scottie Pippen to sign a game-worn jersey."

Kim: "You got yourself a deal, buddy."

Seriously, can anybody be sure that a knucklehead like Dennis Rodman isn't also the nuclearhead who could pull this off?

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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