-- Retired NBA player Dennis Rodman sat down for an interview with "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on Wednesday to discuss his controversial relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Rodman, who's visited North Korea at least five times over the last four years, said the two aren’t “best friends,” but he described their relationship as “close.”
“I'm not protecting him. And people think that I sit there and say, ‘Hey, he's my best friend.’ That's not the case,” Rodman said. “He just treats me as a friend.
“I'm close enough to him to the fact that he can discuss anything with me. The deal is I don't discuss politics because that's not my job,” he added.
Rodman, an NBA Hall of Famer, said he and Kim first bonded a few years ago when the rogue leader asked for his trust.
“When I went over there, the first thing he said to me [was], ‘Mr. Rodman we just want to know, can we trust you?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ And that's how our conservation started,” he recalled. “I went over there to try to solve things, to try to open the door so we can have some communication.”
Rodman said he does not agree with all of Kim’s political decisions, but he does want to act as a bridge between the U.S. and North Korea.
“He's more of a kid, than anything,” Rodman said. “I think he really wants to change his culture, but I think he's forced to be in this position because every time I go over there, he's changed so much for the people. The people don't see that.
“Like I said, you don't have to like somebody to be around them. You don't have to love somebody to like them,” Rodman added.
In the past, Rodman, who said he is a supporter of President Donald Trump, has called on the president to unite with North Korea, but that seems unlikely as North Korea continues to defy demands for it to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.