Dennis Rodman's Controversial B-day Gift to Kim Jong-Un

Former NBA star hosts international basketball game in North Korea to honor the dictator's birthday.
3:00 | 01/08/14

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Transcript for Dennis Rodman's Controversial B-day Gift to Kim Jong-Un
This is a special. I'm tired and -- -- New York with his ABC news digital special report Dennis Rodman and his team of former NBA players tipped off. Against a team of North Korean players today in Pyongyang his latest round so called basketball diplomacy. This time on a dictator Kim -- -- birthday. The latest on all the rotten and related festivities controversy -- joined now from Washington by ABC's Karen Travers -- parent. Good afternoon tagged -- has struck up a really surprising relationship with North Korea's reclusive leader Kim John -- And in this isn't very strange because he's also the most high profile American to meet with him. Since -- -- power two years ago. It -- is a friendly game of hoops former NBA players -- eighteen of north Koreans. Dennis Rodman says he's just basketball player. But by organizing his trip to Pyongyang and stirred up up full court controversy. Rodman before the game -- -- happy birthday with Korean leader Kim Jong. Rodman says it's basketball diplomacy. And the game was a birthday gift a lovely guy in the last night and emerald enamored -- Friend is considered one of the world's most brutal dictators. The North Korean leader recently ordered the execution of his own uncle. He's held captive since man a crew American missionary -- by. Yesterday Rodman grew angry CNN -- on why he hasn't used his relationship with him to help by. And one thing about politics. Human behavior when thing. -- understand. And you -- -- -- what can bring you do it. -- do you understand. The other American former pros said they came -- the trip to try and make a connection between US and North Korea. My question. Whether we were doing the right thing because of the media scrutiny it was important to. Stand strong. And follow up and follow through and that -- worked out. The White House indicated it would not approve the trip if it had any say in -- no surprise Dennis Rodman did not reach out to them. All right ABC's Karen Travers thank you so much for that report. And for more on the story let's bring in ABC payments McDonald payments let's start with. The less serious stuff those American all stars who traveled all that way to play against -- North Korean team loss. I was pretty bizarre that -- and admitted they -- basketball match was played in this into -- stadium in Pyongyang. It looks nothing like the basketball -- that we use to saying. People dressed in suits clapping in time when and it's called. It really was it -- to see. I suppose. One of the things that you would -- is he over that you it is is just how orderly everyone in the crowd -- Effectively doing what they've told though at least what's expected often. And even hard to say crowd there aren't you. I had -- -- until there at this seats are filled in the let's check in with what Rodman had to say and his hotel after the game. It's innocent civilians okay. Who -- the world sees. Can. Wounds this news today we just. Take you to take -- did you do -- -- -- -- -- We. Look good -- look as -- things so I think that. And when the Bruins are -- -- He's calling this a historic day maybe he's referring to just being can Jonathan's birthday or maybe he's referring to this is sort of that basketball diplomacy we all talk about. But at the same time he often says -- we're just friends nothing more is going on here so you don't know what's -- assessment of what's going. On there well may be that -- -- will be that Dennis Rodman is well intentioned it may be that he sees these exit -- that if things that. Improving understanding. Between the west and north -- it is such that reclusive state. I think perhaps one of the things that. That gives us an indication of whether or not really the north Koreans -- serious about. Improving understanding is the fact that this possible match was not China has not been -- On domestic television in North Korea. Site that I suppose -- lanes -- -- theory. That this is about propaganda this is about Kim -- -- having a handy way. -- national community saying that he's opening himself up whether an off. Through Dennis Rodman that's a believable. Case the night is another matter altogether. All right and that something that has been. Talked about in terms of Dennis -- trip is the hope that he would have perhaps done something or said something. To help -- -- buying -- missionary being held in North Korea originally from. Who who is an American citizen let's Hewitt -- sister -- -- had to say. It's a cleaning is an understatement there were shocked and outraged. Could not believe he is seeing these things -- isn't a position to help. Don't want to we don't want can't beat the forgotten. OK so was it a reasonable expectation that Dennis Rodman would try to publicly assists Kevin by. Who reasonable and all of this is their fourth trip in a year that Dennis Rodman has made to North Korea and that certainly was an expectation that. He might make some representations. In fact Dennis Rodman has made some comments in the posse went on -- In the last year -- that he -- -- like Kim Jong-Il incidents are cutting some slack to let him go -- But certainly the reaction in the last 24 hours -- these -- it. Has been very clear as being very -- Clearly the north Koreans have told Dennis Rodman something about what value believe Tenet by was involved in don't forget in North Korea that tight. The spreading of religion very seriously any form of a -- religion. Would be seen as a negative in North Korea because. That might pose some kind of threat to the regime. And we should back it up a bit what is the official word on why is being held in Korea will the north Koreans that effectively -- saying that he was trying to undermine undermine the regime by spreading. Christianity. Don't forget that he is a practicing Christian but he was operating as a as a formal. -- -- in North Korea. The accusation is that he was doing more than that. -- and now they have in the past. Released other Americans they released American -- -- in just a few months back. Is this just a matter of time or is the sense that by is really going to be there for us for quite a long time. I think there. I -- is always unknowns when it comes to North Korea that I think there are potentially more unknowns in this instance. Those Americans that are being released in the past. Have -- -- were held. Under a different leadership his father Kim Jong ill. And whether or not this mammal might decisions in -- -- -- whether or not these freezing -- decisions. In the same why don't forget his uncle was executed recently and it was widely believed that he was the backbone of the regime he was the guy. That was really calling the shots so the -- -- which decisions. I might right now in North Korea is as difficult to tell as -- that as it -- perhaps even more difficult. One can imagine Dennis Rodman was paid a lot of money to go and perform that exhibition game in North Korea. There at this point is no lingering sense that he is working. Under the auspices of the American government here her act I. I -- -- anybody given what's happened in the last few days that would believe that that he's working for the American government in doing this. And certainly the White House has made those statements that we that we've had already saying that I would not have approved of this if they had -- say. The reality is that out. Our ABC's -- McDonald in New York thank you so much for joining us thank you. And integrate it complete recap right here an abcnews.com. For now I'm tired Hernandez in New York but -- ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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