FORMER NBA star Dennis Rodman has dissolved into tears on live television during an emotional interview about the North Korea summit.
As Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump met behind closed doors, Mr Rodman appeared on CNN, wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap, sunglasses and a T-shirt advertising PotCoin.com.
The basketballer turned advocate for North Korea opened up about his personal friendship with Kim and his struggle to be taken seriously.
“I was very naive when I went over there. I thought I was just going to play basketball. But it turned out to be so much bigger than I thought,” Mr Rodman said of his first trip to North Korea in 2013.
“Just meeting the regime, meeting Kim Jong-un and the marshalls, I just fell in love with the country from day one.”
Mr Rodman grew emotional as he spoke about former US president Barack Obama. He said he tried to reach out to Mr Obama on the North Koreans’ behalf, but was rejected.
“Obama didn’t even give me the time of day,” he said.
“I asked him — I said I have something to say from North Korea. He just brushed me off. But that didn’t deter me.
“When I said those damn things … when I went back home . I got so many death threats,” he said, choking up.
“I believed in North Korea, and when I went home … I couldn’t even go home. I had to hide out for 30 days. I couldn’t even go home.
“I got so much bad press. I couldn’t even go home. But I kept my head high, brother. I knew things were gonna change. I was the only one. I had no one to hear me, no one to see me, but I knew it. I took those bullets, I took all that.
“Everyone came at me, but I’m still standing. Today is a great day for everyone. Singapore, China, everyone — today is a great day.
“I’m so happy.”
Mr Rodman is one of just a handful of Westerners to have visited the reclusive North Korean state and met Kim, who is believed to be a huge basketball fan and occasional player.
The former basketballer has called the North Korean leader his “friend for life”.
Mr Rodman told CNN about the “gift” he gave Kim early in their relationship — he brought over professional basketballers to play in North Korea.
“I said I’m gonna give him a present,” he said. “I got a lot of people together and it happened. And Kim came to me and said Dennis, this is the first time someone has ever kept their word to me and my country. I came through and I think he really appreciated that.”
Mr Rodman was full of compliments for Kim, saying he “loves to have a good time”.
“He’s all about the 21st century, he’s going to progress his country,” Mr Rodman said.
“He’s more like a big kid, even though he’s small, but he loves to have a good time.
“This guy wants to be around the world, he wants to come to America, he wants to enjoy his life.
“People know that Kim Jong-un is not a dumb man. I think he’s trying to protect his people and protect his honour.”
The former NBA star sidestepped anchor Chris Cuomo’s questions about North Korea’s brutal human rights record, dismissing it as “politics”.
“I’m not a politician,” he said. “He’s a good friend to me. That’s what I look at. I don’t see the politics of this situation, I want that to go away, I want us to get along.”
More to come.