|Dennis Rodman Held Kim Jong-Un's Daughter|
|By JOSH HASKELL (@joshbhaskell)||Sep 9, 2013, 12:10 PM|
Dennis Rodman says he made history on his second trip to North Korea by becoming the first foreigner to hold Kim Jong-un's daughter, a claim that revealed to the world that the secretive leader even had a baby.
Rodman, the flamboyant former basketball player, said he was making a foray into basketball diplomacy and was being asked to coach the North Korean basketball team in the next summer Olympics.
He also bristled that President Obama hasn't recognized his significant relationship to a world leader who has a nuclear arsenal and worrying reputation for going rogue.
"Let's have a conversation. Why Obama, you afraid to talk to Dennis Rodman? You're not afraid to talk to Beyonce and Jay Z?.... I'm pretty important now," Rodman said, raising his voice while pointing at the dozen or so cameras covering his "un-official" North Korea trip de-brief.
While annoyed with Obama, Rodman was delighted with the North Korean leader.
"For him to open his heart and his mind, to give me his daughter for the first time in history," said Rodman with a cigar in his hand at a news conference today in New York City. "He's my friend."
In a separate interview Monday, Rodman told the UK's Guardian newspaper that Kim Jong-un's daughter is named Ju-ae and that the North Korean ruler is a "good dad."
The visit to North Korea included discussions with the country about holding a basketball tournament in Pyongyang on Jan. 8, 2014, which will be Kim Jong-un's 32nd birthday.
According to Rodman and Ireland's largest bookmaker Paddy Powder, the "Paddy Power Dennis Rodman Invitational" will pit a North Korean team, trained by Rodman, against a squad of "all-star American players." He acknowledged that the American squad had not yet been assembled.
"It was a dream...It's not about the money. It's about trying to open Obama's and everybody's mind," said Rodman. Paddy Power is sponsoring the tournament, putting up a few million dollars, according to Rodman.
The former Chicago Bull said he talked bluntly to Kim Jong-un, the third family member to run the impoverished country.
"I said this to him, 'Your grandfather and your father did some bad things, but you are trying to change something,'" Rodman said.
Paddy Power said they're aware of the sensitivity towards relations with North Korea and made it clear that they're not endorsing the regime by putting on a basketball tournament.
"This is about us and Dennis. We're inspired by Dennis Rodman's dream for basketball diplomacy," said a spokesperson with Paddy Power.
Rodman first met Kim Jong-un, a basketball fan, during a visit in February to promote the sport and make a film. U.S. officials frowned on the trip for giving the leader a propaganda boost, but Rodman suggested "basketball diplomacy" could warm relations.