By Kolbe Nelson
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I am absolutely not an expert on United States-North Korea Relations. I grew up watching Dennis Rodman play basketball though.
Rodman, along with a TV crew and, completing the trifecta of strange awesomeness, three members of the Harlem Globetrotters, visited North Korea, a country veiled in secrecy and untrusted by much of the world. Maybe stranger, they became the personal guests of dictator Kim Jong Un, who has enjoyed both basketball and booze with the American contingent. Most of me thinks it’s an awful idea sending an often unpredictable basketball player (part-time pro wrestler) to a country veiled in secrecy and possibly capable of nuclear warfare, but part of me thinks it might be a good start.
There are very few things in this world that can break down social barriers quite like sports. Take for example, the story of Jackie Robinson. Robinson may have been just as important in the march for civil rights as Martin Luther King. In a country where racism ran rampant, Robinson convinced certainly not all, probably not most, but some people that skin color didn’t matter. Why? Because he helped the Dodgers win ballgames and he was a hell of a lot of fun to watch. He did his job masterfully and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. That made a dent. Now there’s a black man in the White House — without Robinson that might still be out of the question.
I’m not naive enough to say the problems between the United States and North Korea can be solved by a guy that can steal home. Maybe there is no complete solution to the beef the two countries have with one another. Let’s not forget, North Korea has shown it doesn’t care what other countries think about it and its leaders don’t seem to care much about their own citizens either, as Gawker illustrated.
Still, an opportunity has presented itself here. Thanks to the 1992 Dream Team, basketball holds a level of worldwide popularity not seen by most sports. Nowhere is this more evident than North Korea, where for many, one of the only Americans they’ve ever heard of is a guy by the name of Michael Jordan.
Because of that, the same idea that helped Robinson make his mark on history is showing itself here. It doesn’t matter that Rodman’s body is a canvas of tattoos and piercings, that his nickname is The Worm or that he has masqueraded around in women’s clothing on countless occasions. All these details that would probably lead to a very unfortunate demise for a man in North Korea are suddenly being discarded. Why? Because he could pull down rebounds like it was nobody’s business and he was a hell of a lot of fun to watch. He did his job masterfully and at the end of the day, that’s what matters.
So why not use that to your advantage? Why not use that to ease tensions with a country led by a madman’s fanboy son? Obviously Rodman won’t be writing up any treaties or leading any policy meetings. But maybe he can be the guy to open the door.
Nobody else is going to do it. Jordan, Bird, and Magic won’t be leaving the comfort of a golf course anytime soon for a trip to North Korea. And maybe that’s why Rodman’s perfect. He has just the right combination of popularity and lunacy to open up relations between our nations and maybe convince North Korea to put away their nuclear rockets. Hey, if Rocky Balboa can help end the Cold War, then maybe Ambassador Worm is what we need.
Dennis Rodman is preventing World War III. I’ll be damned.
About the author: Kolbe Nelson is an occasionally somewhat part-time contributor to TVFury, writing about New York City and his standup career. Unlike Fury, he’s apparently forgiven Dennis Rodman for his stint with the Lakers.