Should former Chicago Bulls player Dennis Rodman get booted from the NBA Hall Of Fame for visiting North Korea and paling around with the Hermit Kingdom’s oppressive leader, Kim Jong-un?
Otto Warmbier, an American student who was imprisoned in the Hermit Kingdom for 17 months, died Monday after returning to the United States with a severe brain injury. Three other Americans still remain in North Korean custody. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 North Koreans are currently detained in labor camps and political re-education camps, where conditions are reportedly worse than in Nazi concentration camps, according to survivors.
Warmbier’s release coincides with Rodman’s most recent visit to the Hermit Kingdom, during which he gave Jong-un a copy of Donald Trump’s “The Art Of The Deal.” During a visit in 2014, Rodman implied an American missionary deserved to be held captive by the oppressive regime — a remark he later apologized for. He has also described the erratic leader of the North as a “friend for life.”
“I love him,” Rodman said after his first trip to North Korea in 2013. “The guy is awesome. . . He was so honest.”
Critics say Rodman’s statements and cozy relationship with the oppressive regime, which has repeatedly threatened the United States, is out of line.
“Dennis Rodman’s complacency and coddling of Kim Jong-un romanticizes and makes light of how dangerous North Korea is to its own people and Americans who travel there,” said Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Director Marion Smith in a statement Tuesday. “Removing Rodman from the Hall of Fame will send a message that all Americans are united against this regime.”
The nonprofit organization is circulating a petition on Change.org to get the NBA’s attention.
“As a professional athlete and an NBA Hall of Fame member, Rodman is called to be a role model and set an example for the next generation,” the petition reads. “Individuals that praise murderers have no place being idolized by America’s youth or in any Hall of Fame in the United States.”