From Bad Boy to Bad American? Rodman takes controversial vacation

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman attend an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang.

It takes a lot for Dennis Rodman to do something that results in a reaction from the American public.

This is a guy who posed for a photo shoot in a wedding dress, who has died his hair every color in a Crayola 64-crayon box, has pierced nearly every appendage and orifice in his body, and who elbowed, shoved, and wormed his way to every loose ball in his reach during his Hall of Fame basketball career, by any means possible. But after his recent trip to North Korea, Rodman has himself in hot water for the company he has been keeping.

Previously, Rodman’s dalliances with Madonna, Carmen Electra, Vivica A. Fox, and the daughter of the owner of the LA Lakers have raised eyebrows. But his new BFF is considerably more interesting – Kim Jong-un, the dictator who rules North Korea.

“He’s my friend,” Rodman told U.S. reporters upon his return from North Korea, where he and Kim apparently spent considerable time cementing their new “buddy” status. No word on whether they traded bracelets, got friendship tats, or become “blood brothers.”

Since his exit from Detroit, Rodman’s path has been at times bizarre and head-scratching. He’s clashed with teammates, coaches, the media, officials, and fans. Through all of it, “The Worm” has remained consistent in one area of his behavior – his love for attention. If there’s one thing that’s for sure about Dennis, it’s that he craves affirmation. That was obvious from the first time he shed tears in a press conference while wearing the red-white-and-blue of the Pistons, after winning Defensive Player of the Year honors early in his career.

But now, his red-white-and-blue cred is in question after his chummy vacation in North Korea with Kim, who according to reports likes to break human rights violations as much as Rodman liked to get technical fouls.

Kim is out of favor with the U.S. for more than just human rights violations, his nation recently carried out a nuclear test, despite warnings from the west and the United Nations. Shrugging off Kim’s checkered reputation, Rodman has seemed to embrace his fellow “bad boy”, who according to reports is a huge basketball fan. Kim especially loves the Jordan-era Bulls, with whom Rodman won three NBA titles as a rebounding machine and defensive enforcer. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Rodman is eating up the attention his “unauthorized” visit is creating. If anyone loves a brouhaha, it’s Dennis The Menace.

“Don’t hate me, ” Rodman said when asked how he thought average Americans would respond to his visit.

Knowing Dennis the way we do, Detroiters have to assume there was a sly smile on his face when he said that.

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About Dan Holmes

The editor of Detroit Athletic Co. blog, is the author of Ty Cobb: A Biography. He was formerly the Web Producer for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, and worked for Major League Baseball as a producer. He contributed to Sock it to 'Em Tigers: The Incredible Story of the 1968 Detroit Tigers, and Deadball Stars of the American League. Follow him on Twitter at @thedanholmes or visit his personal blog at danholmes.com.