Skip to content

Former Portland star Cliff Robinson talks about trip to North Korea, Rodman

Jan 16, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

Sports as diplomacy can work, but there was a key difference between what, for example, the American Table Tennis team did in China in 1971 (giving us Ping Pong diplomacy) and what Dennis Rodman did with his game in North Korea — the Americans in China didn’t embrace Mao the dictator, that was about connecting with the common people of that nation. Rodman is all in with his “lifelong friend” Kim Jong-un. That changes the dynamic.

Rodman’s trip to North Korea created quite a controversy. Former Trail Blazer Cliff Robinson said he went over there with the intention of just meeting and connecting with the people, not the political side of Rodman’s trip to North Korea, he told Dwight Jaynes of He said most of  the team was unaware it was the leader’s birthday and the game a celebration of that, they were just there to just play basketball.

“If we had more facts of this that and the other to make a better decision things might have been different, we might not have gone,” Robinson admitted, but added he thought they did connect with the common people, that just got overshadowed.

Robinson said they met Kim Jong-un very briefly and shook his hand, but most of their time was spent with the people helping show them around the country and with the North Korean basketball players.

Robinson said he feels they accomplished the goal of just reaching more common people.

Of the fateful, drunken CNN interview when Rodman had his outburst, Robinson said they all spoke before hand and were going to avoid discussing the political, to keep this about basketball and just meeting the people of North Korea, but Rodman got worked up and went off the script. Robinson said it made him uncomfortable.

  1. ALLCELEBRITIESWORLD - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    Reblogged this on ALLCELEBRITIESWORLD.

    • dexterismyhero - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      go sign up for your Obamacare.

      • ALLCELEBRITIESWORLD - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:26 AM


      • koufaxmitzvah - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:42 AM

        Please get hit by a bus and then go broke because you can’t afford the hospital costs.

      • tstorm92 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        Wow. Exactly how many brain cells do you still have left?

  2. skids003 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    Traitors back tracking.

  3. ohioteamsusuallysuck - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    Please force me to buy something I don’t want or need then fine me if I don’t. What is next? Mandatory asteroid protection insurance plans?

    • jvw1982 - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      wow a person who will never need medical care or a dummy who will wait until he is sick then go to emergency room and can’t afford the bill which will increase my premium…i’m tired of taking care of you freeloaders

    • tstorm92 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      Easy. Car insurance.

  4. azarkhan - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Kim’s Kill List: Comrades the North Korean Leader Has Offed – Vocativ

    Nice sidebar for the article.

  5. gquesen - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Jesus people, stop making every little thing political. You clearly didn’t even read the article carefully or listen to Robinson’s interview. You just couldn’t resist finding a way to Obama bash. What a joke.

  6. fnc111 - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    ^^^^ Obama pansie

  7. pbtunpaidwriter - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Cliff had a silky smooth shot…

  8. captainwisdom8888 - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Anyone with common knowledge of just how murderous and brutal that regime has become in North Korea would want nothing to do with “making a life-long friend in Kim Jong un.” It’s like venturing into the depths of hell to make friends with the devil himself. The “great leader” of North Korea has committed so many unspeakable atrocities ON HIS OWN PEOPLE, and he rules through fear and violence alone with no sympathy whatsoever for the common man.

    The U.S. along with other nations decided that they would provide some financial relief to North Korea if the leader promised to use that money to increase the quality of life amongst the civilians. Instead, between 70-80% of that financial aid was diverted straight into the pockets of the country’s elite. That was the last time they ever received substantial aid from us.

    My bad for the history lesson, but the thing that gets me the most is just how sadistic these prison camps are in North Korea. The law there is: if you commit a crime, than not only are you going to prison, but your parents and your children are going to prison with you. They purge 3 generations just for one man’s wrongdoing…and currently a higher percentage of North Korea’s economy is based on slave labor than anywhere else in the world. One guy was imprisoned for reading a newspaper while he sat on the ground…the newspaper happened to have a picture of their leader in it and a policeman took him way because the guy let a picture of the leader touch the ground.

  9. southbeachtalent - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    shhhhh Rodman is really a cyborg spy..

  10. gquesen - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Fnc111 I didn’t even vote for Obama. Ignorant idiots like yourself seem to think we live in a communist state. Open your freakin eyes

    • azarkhan - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Countries and governments change over time. Obama and the Democrats continually increase the power of the federal government, either through legislation (Obamacare) or executive fiat (EPA regulations, etc.). That can only lead to a loss of individual freedom and liberty. Open your freakin eyes.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:40 PM

        Every president has had to deal with these accusations – from George Washington, to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, to Lincoln, Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush. Now President Obama. The next president will also be accused of encroaching on individual freedom and liberty, and so on.

        So look, I know you want your party to win the next presidential election, but fear mongering is so cliche. Following the precept that national character is, as De Tocqueville said, “virtually indestructible” – and knowing that defense of individual freedom and liberty is a part of our national character – I’d say your concerns are unfounded. That is why this kind of oppositional rhetoric has been repeated continually throughout American history since the 1790s (fear of monarchy/aristocracy/fascism/communism – whichever scare word of the day), yet the ominous predictions never comes to pass.

        Because of misplaced intense political passions, both sides fail to realize that the people they accuse of encroaching on freedom and liberty are just as interested as they are in defending it – and that we only play this word game for votes. Because of our indestructible national character, neither Republicans or Democrats actually have to worry about the other party turning the country into either a Fascist or Communist state.

  11. 00maltliquor - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Maury: When it comes to 25 year old Kevin Durant, Cliff…..YOU ARE the father

  12. gquesen - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    …ok…tell me right now. Are we in democracy or not? We’re still going to be this way for a long time. We still vote, can still voice displeasure. That’s what you people are really missing here. Democrats didn’t even start this surveillance crap. Republicans did. I don’t like either party. But I’m also not so irrational that I make completely off the wall statements. So if you’re going to complain about your lack of civil liberties, recognize why and where they began to erode (bush administration, 9/11). Also, you people telling Robinson to make communist friends, didn’t this kind of sports diplomacy happen under a Republican president? Nixon my friends, it’s called detente. You’re ignorance is embarrassing to Americans who actually think.

  13. tstorm92 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    All this guy accomplished was to tarnish his reputation for the rest of his life!

    • kavika6 - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:26 AM

      Who are you talking about tstorm92, Rodman or Obama? It’s true in both cases.

  14. antistratfordian - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    ”…the Americans in China didn’t embrace Mao the dictator, that was about connecting with the common people of that nation. Rodman is all in with his “lifelong friend” Kim Jong-un. That changes the dynamic.”

    But predating “ping pong diplomacy” was a visit by a delegation of the Black Panther Party. They DID embrace Mao. The Panthers were honored as national guests. Huey Newton presented the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai with a formal petition requesting that China “negotiate with Nixon for the freedom of the oppressed peoples of the world.”

    That was a prelude to more diplomacy – including the later visit by Nixon.

    Naturally, most Americans would rather credit the US Table Tennis team rather than the Black Panther Party – but American supporters of Mao did play a role in the normalization of US-Chinese relations.

    So Rodman’s support of Kim Jung-un doesn’t preclude him from being able to prod Jung-un into being more open.

    Also, the key to normalization is not connecting with the common North Korean person – it’s convincing their leader that he and his country has more to gain by cooperating than not (the people are completely powerless in North Korea). It wasn’t ping pong that led to China opening its doors, after all – Mao Zedong had already decided that China needed to improve its relationship with the United States long before that. His disposition is what led to the invitation of the US Table Tennis team in the first place.

    So the key to a better relationship with North Korea starts and ends with the mind of Kim Jong-un – and here is a man who grew up with the slogan ‘Down with American imperialism!’ who is willing to have an American friend(s). This is a small step in the right direction even though it seems like a PR disaster at the moment.

    • azarkhan - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:43 PM

      The Black Panthers had nothing to do with Nixon’s visit, zero. Nixon had already intellectually formulated and planned his detente policy, which included using Communist China as a counterweight to the Soviet Union, long before those clowns showed up. And it wasn’t Black Panthers arriving in Beijing spouting silly communist slogans that influenced Mao. They were just “useful idiots” for the communists. Mao realized he needed the US not only in opposing the Russians, but more importantly, in regaining Taiwan. See the Shanghai Communique, which enunciated the principle of “one China”.

      BTW, if the Panthers wanted “the freedom of the oppressed peoples of the world”, they should have asked Mao to free the Chinese people, who in 2014 still live under the dictatorial rule of the CCP. Or have you forgotten Tiananmen Square?

  15. stayhigh_247 - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    this is so ridiculous, they went to hoop with the North Koreans, its not like they defected or sold secrets. this country is full of hypocrites, but thats a rant for another blog. these guys need to stop giving interviews so this can die a natural death.

  16. truthsintime - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    People need to shut up, Chris Cuomo did not have any business trying to make this political, the guys told him over and over it was about ‘Basketball”, but all Cuomo was interested in was making a name for himself and trying to grandstand and make some ‘stay in the front seat drama”. If anything, Dennis and the Team should have walked off the Interview the minute Cuomo continues to try and make them responsible for politican things. Besides, it is not American’s business that this man executed his Uncle, because not one American knows what the issue was behind it. Nor does it concern American Politics. Rodman is not responsible for Mr. Bey, that is a state department issue if it is to be an issue, not a group of basketball players on a humanitarian good will mission with its own designated special purpose.
    America, likes too quick to sling out ‘DE-humanizing labels” on others, when they know nothing about N. Korea and its Internal Affairs. So trying to drum up something is nothing but the madness of the American Media and the Ego self consumed drama hounds that sit behind the news desk.
    Not one time did Cuomo mention anything N. K’s Kim said about his works to build more cultural things and to develop a softer relations with S. Korea.

    All these US goons want to do is get in and push influence, when this young guy knows what he is faced with in his country, and he knows it takes a lot of work to turn his country around, and he certainly can’t do it with US meddling.
    Most of these countries know, the last thing they need is . Instead of diplomacy, these first thing a Western Right Winger Republican Minded Confederate Ideological political Imperialist driven madmen would do is go there and try and dictate something. When this guy does not need that interference, while he tries to find a way to turn his country around. His uncle is just one of many that he has to internally get rid of before he can push form reforms in his country and make overtures of better relations with foreign nations.
    None of those old heads who have power want to give up that power, and Kim knows it, so he has to be crafty in how he goes about the dismantle the strangle hold they have on policy. But Impatient and even Agitating Western Media are too drama driven in their aims to ever understand how to shut up and get out of the way, all they know to do is stir the pot,hoping to create smoke and then fan it into a flame.
    You can best bet China has fully warned N. Korea to be very leary of white male American and even more so of Right Wing white male Americans. These people are not blind nor stupid, they saw how we stomped through Iraq, all the while budding up with Saudi Arabia, when it is the hard line intolerant Saudi’s who are funding and keep funding the fighting. Everyone can see it, except the American People, because we are too quick to believe the ‘let’s kill something attitude of Fox News”, and the “white man in a suit with his eyes on money”…. distorting the real truths.

    People need to learn to think beyond the drama fest tv show that masquerades by calling itself the news.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (1977)
  2. D. Rose (1777)
  3. K. Bryant (1631)
  4. J. Smith (1552)
  5. T. Thompson (1379)
  1. K. Irving (1351)
  2. T. Wroten (1337)
  3. A. Davis (1281)
  4. F. Saunders (1248)
  5. J. Embiid (1228)