Dennis Rodman apologizes for outburst on CNN

The former NBA star and self-appointed head of basketball diplomacy to North Korea said he had been drinking

Published January 9, 2014 4:01PM (EST)

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has apologized to the family of Kenneth Bae, an American citizen currently imprisoned in totalitarian North Korea on dubious charges, his teammates, and CNN's Chris Cuomo after he lost his cool when the anchor challenged Rodman's mission for "basketball diplomacy."

Cuomo interviewed Rodman via videoconferencing from North Korea on Tuesday, where the eccentric star was participating in a basketball game to honor leader Kim Jong Un's birthday. Rodman, who considers the despised world leader as a "cool guy" and among his close friends, has visited Kim four times in less than a year.

But when pressed to speak about Bae, Rodman became outraged -- and not on Bae's behalf. "Do you understand what he did?” Rodman asked Cuomo on Tuesday, implying that Bae deserves his 15-year sentence. “You tell me! You tell me! Why is he held captive?”

In a statement released by his publicist Jules Feiler, Rodman demonstrated his first instance of self-awareness since he began his bizarre visits to North Korea. "I want to first apologize to Kenneth Bae's family," he said. "I want to apologize to my teammates and my management team. I also want to apologize to Chris Cuomo."

The star is aware that he has "embarrassed a lot of people."

"I'm very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I'm truly sorry," he said, attributing the outburst to stress and drinking.

Referring to the team of players he organized in North Korea, he said, "some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates," and conceded that "basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart."

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

MORE FROM Prachi Gupta

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Alcohol Basketball Cnn Dennis Rodman Kim Jong-un North Korea