Former US basketball player Dennis Rodman’s agent says the former NBA star did not take any payment from the North Korean government during his trip this week to the country.
Darren Prince says the North Korean government did not finance any part of the trip, adding that Irish betting company, Paddy Power PLC, covered expenses for Rodman and his team of former NBA players that included Charles Smith, Kenny Anderson and Cliff Robinson.
NBA commissioner David Stern told CNN this week that Rodman was influenced by “a flash of North Korean money” to stage an exhibition game in Pyongyang.
Rodman apologized on Thursday for comments he made in North Korea about a detained US missionary, saying he had been drinking and was under pressure as he organized the game.
He also sang Happy Birthday to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the start of the friendly game.
Rodman dedicated the game to his “best friend” Kim, who along with his wife and other senior officials and their wives watched from a special seating area.
The capacity crowd of about 14,000 at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium clapped loudly as Rodman sang a verse from the song.
Rodman said he was honored to be able to play the game in the North Korean capital and called the event “historic.”
However, some members of the US Congress, the NBA and human rights groups say he has become a public relations tool for North Korea’s government.
Prince also said that an England-based production company, Chief Productions, filmed the North Korea trip for a documentary, and another outfit, Koryo Tours, sold VIP packages to the game and will make a donation to a children’s charity in North Korea this month with a portion of the proceeds.