Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Doug Christie caught up in Rodman, North Korea turmoil

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 - 11:21 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 - 7:40 am

While Charles Smith apparently is having second thoughts about accompanying Dennis Rodman and a handful of former NBA players to Pyongyang, North Korea, for an exhibition game scheduled for Wednesday, Doug Christie didn’t express any such reservations during a brief cell phone conversation with his wife, Jackie.

“We just talked for all of about three minutes because the phone line kept going in an out,” Jackie Christie said a few minutes ago. “I don’t even think they have the Internet. But my husband made it clear when he was asked to play that he wouldn’t get into the politics of it. We know those guys. They all love to play basketball. Doug trains athletes. That’s what he does.”

Rodman organized the game as a birthday present for North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, whom he refers to as a “friend” and has visited on other occasions. Kenny Anderson, Sleepy Floyd, Vin Baker and Clifford Robinson accompanied Rodman, Christie and Smith, a one-time president of the NBA Players Association.

But the trip – which was not sanctioned by the U.S. State Department nor endorsed by the NBA or the Retired Players Association – has been heavily criticized because of North Korea’s human rights record. When CNN reporter Chris Cuomo asked Rodman Tuesday if he planned to inquire about Kenneth Bae, the American missionary who is being detained in North Korea on “anti-state” charges, the former Detroit Pistons star erupted.

“Do you understand what he did in his country?” Rodman responded, while angrily pointing at the camera. “No, no, no, you tell me … why? I would love to speak on this.”

Smith later told the Associated Press “I feel a lot of remorse for the guys, because we are doing something positive, but it’s a lot bigger than us. We are not naïve. We understand why things are being portrayed the way they are. We’re not skilled in those particular areas. Dennis is definitely not skilled in those particular areas.”

Related stories:

Ex-NBA player says NKorea game dwarfed by politics

NBA, NBRPA not backing Rodman's North Korea trip

Photo gallery: Dennis Rodman in North Korea for exhibition game

Call The Bee’s Ailene Voisin, (916) 321-1208.

Read more articles by Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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