“That’s not the right thing to do,” Dennis Rodman said. “He’s my friend first. He’s my friend. I don’t give a shit. I tell the world: He’s my fucking friend, I love him.” That’s what Rodman said in Beijing when answering questions about why he won’t ask North Korea’s boy tyrant, Kim Jong Un, about the myriad human rights violations he’s guilty of. Instead, for Kim’s 30th birthday, Rodman is hosting a game of “basketball diplomacy.” He’s assembled a team of ex-NBA players and “streetballers” to lace up against a North Korean squad.
For some of these ex-stars who’ve struggled with addiction and relevancy, it’s an inspirational story of perseverance. You know, like Space Jam, except not as fun, entirely pointless, and sans Bill Murray. Here’s who’s going to Pyongyang.
Vin Baker Baker was one of those big men who moved like a ballerina. Unfortunately, the four-time NBA All-Star was tragically known for his unofficial nickname: Vin and Tonic. Battling depression and alcoholism his entire career, Baker confessed that after playing poorly he’d binge-drink in hotel rooms. While on the Celtics, Baker was caught showing up to practice reeking of booze. His lowest moment, however, may have been after the NBA lockout ended in the late ’90s, when he weighed a whopping 300 pounds. He also sued his financial adviser for mismanaging his $86 million from 1997 to 2009. Now, after a DUI arrest and having learned from his mistakes, he’s studying to be a pastor.
“In my career, I amassed $105 million,” Baker said. “Sounds like a pretty big armor, right? When you’re protected by the armor of God, it doesn’t matter how much money you had or how many gold medals you won in the Olympics. No, the armor means praying and having the armor protect you from the enemy.”
The New York City high school legend reveals quite a bit in his play Penis Monologues: He’s fathered seven children with five women (including DJ Spinderella from Salt-n-Pepa), he suffers from mild dyslexia, and he was fired from his high school coaching gig in May after a DUI arrest...and he almost wishes he didn’t have a penis. After being traded to the Toronto Raptors in 1998, he refused to play in Canada. But North Korea’s fine.
In a league where many players smoke pot but few are caught, Cliff Robinson was suspended three times between 2001 and 2006.
“So they told me I was suspended, and it was the worst feeling I ever had in my life,” he said at the time. “To know I couldn’t be out there, it was extremely disappointing. I never had to deal with that kind of disappointment in my life. But I brought it upon myself, so I had no one to blame but myself.”
Robinson was rumored to have met with Lamar Odom as a drug counselor shortly before Odom’s DUI arrest. He’s also been rumored to be on the next season of the reality TV competition series Survivor.
Hodges sued the NBA for $40 million in 1996 for blacklisting him for his political views—specifically, his friendship with Louis Farrakhan. After he was cut by the Chicago Bulls, no teams went after him. Perhaps it was thanks to calling out his teammate Michael Jordan for his lack of politics. Consider Rodman’s offer Hodges’s second chance.
There’s nothing really incendiary about Smith’s past [Ed note: other than his atrocious playoff performances and lackadaisical D with the Knicks], but this quote is, well, a bit troubling: “Dennis and I are total opposites but we work very well together. Dennis is one of the few people I know that doesn”t just talk but actually lives a culturally diverse life. We have traveled everywhere together so I was not surprised with his first visit to North Korea.”
Christie is committed to not being tempted by other women. To do this, he gets married to his wife every year (yes, they have a big wedding). He also doesn’t look at or talk to any other women.
“Every conversation I’ve ever had with a woman since we’ve been married besides my wife she knows about,” he told the New York Times. “She’s been there. But what are we talking about? Banking? Mortgage? Other than that, I don’t have anything to say to anybody. It’s taking up my time and my time is limited to basketball and my family.”
The last we heard from him, he and his wife were “executive producing and stuff” on an adult film. It’s unclear whether the “stuff” means they are acting in it.
Eric ‘Sleepy’ Floyd
It’s better not to know where Eric Floyd got his nickname from. It’s really not that interesting. He was a really great basketball player, though.