North Korea’s Basketball Team, Called “The Torch,” Beats Dennis Rodman’s NBA Squad, And Other Weirdness

Dennis Rodman sang Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-un, who then watched as his country’s basketball team beat Dennis Rodman’s USA team on Wednesday in Pyongyang. That’s according to Koryo Tours general manager Simon Cockerell, who reports that “the DPRK team emerged triumphant” in a 20-minute game, played as two 10-minute halves.

That DPRK team was apparently called the Torch. Afterwards, players lined up and mixed up the squads, like “in a primary school,” with captains picking players. (Who was picked last???) They played another 20-minute game, Green vs. White.

Cockerell again:

That game was actually much better, showboating, showing off, alley-oops, slam dunks, and that kind of that, so that was a really entertaining game.

But the most entertaining moment for “most of the North Koreans present” was undoubtedly at the beginning, when Kim Jong-un appeared with his wife.

…And of course, as is their way of doing things, all the local people went crazy, so several minutes of cheering and saluting, shouting manse, meaning “10,000 years, long life,” until basically Kim Jong-un told everybody to sit down and the game began.

Actually Dennis Rodman gave a speech at the beginning of the event, which was clearly improvised because he didn’t seem particularly well prepared, which culminated in him leading a mass sing-along of Happy Birthday to You to his friend, Kim Jong-un. So as you might imagine, it was a bizarre and unusual occasion that won’t easily be forgotten.

Private cameras were apparently not allowed inside Pyongyang stadium, but Sky News managed to capture the above footage, which is amazing. AP reports that 14,000 people attended the game, and also has this picture:

Dennis Rodman

Rodman’s team, in case you’ve missed all the news lately, consisted of seven former NBA players: Kenny Anderson, Vin Baker, Cliff Robinson, Charles Smith, Doug Christie, Sleepy Floyd, Craig Hodges. Here’s Smith in a pretty funny photo — funny in that tall-people-juxtaposed-next-to-not-so-tall-people kind of way — via @mpspavor:

Chris Smith in North Korea

The NY Times’s The Lede blog has more, plus videos. Stuff like this:

(H/T Vicky Mohieddeen)

    4 Responses to “North Korea’s Basketball Team, Called “The Torch,” Beats Dennis Rodman’s NBA Squad, And Other Weirdness”

    1. Jonathan Alpart

      I’ve only got one question:

      Who else is in North Korea and in proximity of Kim Jong-un?

      Fucking nobody.

      The State Department cleared Rodman and Co.’s entry into North Korea. Think about why they would do that. Why Rodman? Because he’s “crazy.” Crazy enough to go in there and take a beating. Him and all the other former NBA players that are with him. It’s easy to look at Rodman’s weird get-up and antics and just think he is “crazy.”

      Consider that they are literally risking their lives going over there to play basketball. That Kim Jong-un in fact has people murdered and has ultimate power as the world’s leading wack-job dictator. Rodman isn’t Clinton. Kim could kill Rodman for looking at him funny and no one would care.

      Watch his “rant” on CNN again with all this in mind.

      This is Basketball Diplomacy, much like Ping-Pong diplomacy with China during Nixon. Who else is making in-roads with Kim?

      Crazy times call for crazy measures.

      • mattphoto

        I agree.
        Still, it’s a shame. To accommodate those players with lavish stays, tours, meals, security, gifts, and pay, how many citizens probably starved?
        Would an official state visit have been less impact?

    2. benji

      The US hoser basketball team members were reminded that winning against the North Koreans meant 1.) They have to endure a 20 course Kimchee only meal, 2.) All get the same designer haircut of the fatso bimbo KJU, 3.) Have their most sensitive reproductive part tattooed and pierced like Rodman’s exposed body parts, then sent off to labor camp with the hapless Bae (what a dolt – going their to preach religion).


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