Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is considering a trip to Singapore while President Trump and Kim Jong Un hold their summit, and he could potentially meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and possibly play a role in the negotiations.
The Hall of Famer has visited North Korea five times before, originally as a sports ambassador, and ultimately formed an unlikely relationship with Kim that has even impacted U.S. diplomacy. The New York Post reported that Rodman would make the trip to Singapore, according to its sources.
Sources said that if Rodman decides to show up for the summit, he may even arrive a day before Trump.
Outside a handful of former Presidents and high-ranking officials, Rodman is one of just a few American citizens who have ever met with Kim.
“A lot of times in situations that involve complex diplomacy, countries like to identify ambassadors of goodwill and whether you agree with it or not, Dennis Rodman fits the bill,” a source told the New York Post.
While Rodman holds no government position nor retains any official political pull, the ex-baller has been front and center during a number of U.S.-North Korea encounters.
His first visit was in 2013, when he hosted basketball exhibitions. He and his travel party formally meeting Kim – the first Americans known to do so. Rodman later called Kim “a friend for life.”
Rodman returned to North Korea two more times that same year and personally met with Kim each time.
During his trips in 2013, he continually called on the Obama Administration to open lines of communication with North Korea and attempt to view the country in a different light.
Rodman has called Kim “a very good guy” and praised the leader’s efforts on turning North Korea into a “24th Century country.”
More recently, Rodman has been involved with political delicacies, including encouraging the release of a number of American prisoners detained in North Korea.
In 2016, Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary sentenced to 15 years hard labor, credited Rodman with his release.
In 2017, American college student Otto Warmer was released just one day after another of Rodman’s North Korea visits.
I'm calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him "Kim", to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose.
Rodman, a former contestant on Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice,” also appears to have a good relationship with the Trump Administration.
In June 2017, the administration confirmed that Rodman would visit North Korea to once again conduct what he called “basketball diplomacy.” And in December, Rodman expressed his desire to return to North Korea and encouraged President Trump to meet with him in order to get a better understanding of Kim.
“I’ve been trying to tell Donald since day one: ‘Come talk to me, man … I’ll tell you what the Marshal [Kim Jong Un] wants more than anything … It’s not even that much,” he said at the time.
The surprising friendship between Rodman and Kim grew from Kim’s interest in American basketball – particularly the 1990s Chicago Bulls for which Rodman played.
While it remains to be seen what role – if any – Rodman might play in the Trump-Kim summit, Rodman appears to be one of the few outsiders Kim is comfortable with.