Former NBA star Dennis Rodman openly wept on television in a live interview from Singapore as US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met for the first time.
- Dennis Rodman says he received a call from Mr Trump’s secretary
- Rodman says the secretary told him “Donald Trump is so proud of you”
- Mr Kim is “like a big kid,” Rodman says
The eccentric former basketball player and reality television star is one of the few westerners to have spent time with Mr Kim during multiple visits to Pyongyang.
The two struck up an unlikely friendship over their shared love of basketball.
Rodman also goes back years with Mr Trump and appeared on his Celebrity Apprentice show.
Mr Trump and Rodman in 2009 after the former NBA star’s appearance on Celebrity Apprentice. (Wikicommons: OPEN Sports)
In an emotional interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Rodman, wearing sunglasses and a “Make America Great Again” hat, said he had received a call from the White House ahead of Mr Trump’s historic meeting with Mr Kim.
“Yes, Donald Trump reached out,” Rodman said, telling Cuomo he had received a call from a person he described as Mr Trump’s secretary.
“She called me and said, ‘Dennis, Donald Trump is so proud of you. He thanks you a lot.’ And that means a lot,” Rodman said.
He added that he suspected he “somewhat had something to do with this North Korean situation”.
Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives in Singapore ahead of the summit. (AP: Wong May-E)
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the call.
Rodman grew emotional in the interview as he recalled former president Barack Obama failing to take him seriously when he returned from Pyongyang with a message from Mr Kim after one of his trips.
Rodman said Mr Obama “just brushed me off” and “didn’t even give me the time of day”.
He expressed hope that Mr Trump and Mr Kim would be able to make progress.
“We don’t need a miracle. We just need the doors to be opened so we can start fresh,” he said.
“It’s a great day … I’m so happy!”
Kim is ‘like a big kid’, Rodman says
Asked to describe Mr Kim, Rodman said the autocratic leader was “like a big kid” who wants to have a good time, but is “trying to protect his people” and his honour.
“This guy wants to be around the world, he wants to come to America, he wants to enjoy his life, he wants his people to enjoy this life,” Rodman said, adding that Mr Kim is “not a dumb man”.
White House officials have said that Rodman would play no official role in the diplomatic negotiations.
Last week, Mr Trump told reporters that Rodman had not been invited to the summit, but praised him as a “nice guy” and great rebounder.
Rodman told reporters at Changi Airport that he had travelled to Singapore “to see what’s going on” and that he hoped “that things turn out to be well for everyone in the world”.
Asked if he would meet Mr Kim in Singapore, he said he thought the North Korean leader had “bigger things to worry about,” but added that every time he had met with Mr Kim, it had been a surprise.
Rodman’s trip was sponsored by PotCoin, a cryptocurrency company that gives marijuana businesses access to alternative banking because marijuana is illegal under US federal law.
In 2014, Mr Trump tweeted dismissively about the possibility that he and Rodman would someday travel to North Korea together.
“Dennis Rodman was either drunk or on drugs (delusional) when he said I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Glad I fired him on Apprentice!” Mr Trump wrote.
@realDonaldTrump: “Dennis Rodman was either drunk or on drugs (delusional) when eh said I was to go to North Korea with him. Glad I fired him on Apprentice!”