Rodman’s cozy relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has long been a subject of controversy and confusion. And after the mysterious death of American college student Otto Warmbier, who suffered brain damage after 17 months’ imprisonment in North Korea, tensions between the United States and the isolated country are higher than ever.
The petition to remove Rodman’s basketball honors was created by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
“Dennis Rodman’s complacency and coddling of Kim Jong Un romanticizes and makes light of how dangerous North Korea is to its own people and Americans who travel there,” Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, told USA Today. “Removing Rodman from the Hall of Fame will send a message that all Americans are united against this regime.”
Rodman, who played on five championship teams with the Pistons and Bulls over the course of his 14-year NBA career, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
The foundation the Hall of Fame’s own guidelines as grounds for Rodman’s removal. According to these guidelines, an inductee may be removed if he “has damaged the integrity of the game of basketball.”
Last week, Rodman, 56, visited North Korea for the fifth time since 2012, the Daily News reported. The former Bulls forward has publicly defended Kim Jong Un on multiple occasions, calling the egomaniac dictator a “friend for life.”
Smith suggested a link between the timing of Rodman’s visit to Pyongyang and Otto Warmbier’s release.
“It was truly interesting that Dennis Rodman happened to be in North Korea at the same time Otto Warmbier was released,” he told USA Today. “That’s what these kinds of regimes do. They use pop culture figures to distract people when they have something negative in the press.”
Smith said that getting Rodman removed from the Hall “would of course be symbolically important right now.”
“Rodman has long been known for his eccentricities, but this has gone too far,” the petition, launched Tuesday, reads. “As a professional athlete and an NBA Hall of Fame member, Rodman is called to be a role model and set an example for the next generation. Individuals that praise murderers have no place being idolized by America’s youth or in any Hall of Fame in the United States.”
As of Thursday morning, the petition had received more than 1,150 signatures. When that number reaches1,500, the foundation will deliver the petition to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
So far, the Hall of Fame has not commented on the petition.
(H/T: New York Daily News)