|Ex-NBA Stars Disassociate from Dennis Rodman-Led Basketball Game in Pyongyang|
The Simon Wiesenthal Center commended the the National Basketball Retired Association for firmly disassociating itself from the Dennis Rodman organized basketball game in Pyongyang in honor of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's 31st birthday.
"While all Americans support the use of sports to break down barriers between nations, this game does nothing but give the North Korean propaganda machine an undeserved opportunity to change the narrative of this dangerous, nuclearized bully, into a fun-loving, youthful basketball fan," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights group.
Pictured at podium, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) with Rabbi Abraham Cooper Photo: Christine Butler
"At the Wiesenthal Center's press conference yesterday we heard North Korean escapees urge the ex-NBAers to speak out and we are grateful they have before the tip-off in North Korea tomorrow," Cooper added.
The association's press release from Chicago reads in part:
This morning the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) Board of Directors held a conference call to discuss human rights and the upcoming basketball exhibition in North Korea to be led by Dennis Rodman this week. In a productive conference call, the NBRPA Board of Directors discussed the basketball exhibition, as well as conditions and policies in place under North Korea’s current leadership regime.
Directly supported by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the NBRPA is a non-profit association comprised of former professional basketball players of the NBA, ABA, Harlem Globetrotters, and WNBA. The NBRPA is a charitable, 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a two-pronged mission to assist its members in their transition from the playing court into life after the game, while also positively impacting communities and youth through basketball.
“While we support international goodwill and diplomacy in instances deemed appropriate by our Board of Directors, it is important to clarify that the trip to North Korea led by Dennis Rodman and others was not sanctioned by the NBRPA and is not supported by our organization in any way,” said NBRPA Chairman of the Board Otis Birdsong, a four-time NBA All-Star. “Under the right circumstances basketball can serve as a bridge to bring communities together, but these are not those circumstances. Standing alongside our partners at the NBA, we do not condone the basketball activities to be conducted in North Korea this week.”
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).