North Korea

Revealed: Rodman’s team for Pyongyang basketball game have colourful pasts

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 5:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 5:35pm

Say these things for Dennis Rodman: He likes going to North Korea, and likes bringing a bit of a side show with him.

Last year, it was the Harlem Globetrotters. This year, it’s, well, should we call them the Rodmaneers?

Some of the six former NBA players who accompanied Rodman on this trip with plans for a game against North Korean players on Wednesday – the day believed to be the birthday of the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un – have what might best be described as colourful pasts, often caused by some major financial difficulties.

There’s a father of seven kids with five different women. The former high school coach who was fired after driving under the influence. The man who once owned 10 cars and spent US$75,000 a year on insurance alone before declaring bankruptcy.

And that’s all referring to Kenny Anderson.

Cliff Robinson, Vin Baker, Sleepy Floyd, Doug Christie and Charles D Smith have also joined Rodman for the trip, his fourth and from the way he’s talking, probably not his last.

What they are earning on this trip is a mystery. Expenses are covered, Smith said, but it is unknown if they’ll be getting appearance fees or anything along those lines.

Security is said to be provided by the North Korean Olympic Committee, which has guaranteed the Americans safe passage in and out of the nation.

Meet the key players:

Kenny Anderson

He was a high school coach in South Florida not long ago, before a driving under the influence charge cost him that job. It was not like his team was any good – one game was a 78-7 loss – but Anderson talked about how thankful he was to still be in the game and how it could lead to bigger opportunities. It is believed he made about US$65 million in NBA salary, but even that could not keep him from bankruptcy and other financial issues.

Vin Baker

He lost his mansion and his restaurant, along with much of the US$100 million he made as an NBA star, but says he is comfortable these days and is devoting much of his life to ministry. Baker has struggled with alcoholism and depression in the past, was charged with drunken driving in 2007, and the off-court issues make it easy to forget that he helped the United States win Olympic gold in 2000.

Doug Christie

He and his wife throw themselves weddings – not anniversary parties, but weddings – every year. Christie spent parts of 15 seasons in the NBA and still probably does not have the fan base that his wife Jackie has from her work on, among other things, Basketball Wives. And then came this nugget not long ago, that the couple was producing – though not starring in – adult films.

Cliff Robinson

He made roughly US$61 million in NBA salary and apparently that was not enough, as he went through bankruptcy in recent years. He had some minor run-ins with the NBA’s drug policy as a player as well, but his 15-year career was one that left him extremely popular among many other players.


Charles D Smith

Smith is a former executive director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association, getting ousted in 2010. Like Floyd, he has had a busy business life after basketball, says he would not mind meeting the North Korean leader who Rodman calls “the marshal” on their trip and could not wait to sit down with North Korean players to answer questions about life in America. “A little courage, a little faith is involved here,” Smith says.

Sleepy Floyd

He counsels troubled people, works in ministry, has successful business dealings and started a financial management company after retiring. Memo to the Rod-men: He’s your captain.