Kim Jong-un loves basketball. The 35-year-old North Korean leader grew up on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, and his fascination with the sport has persisted well into his tenure as Supreme Leader. He even made a point to strike up a friendship with former Bulls forward Dennis Rodman, inviting the prolific rebounder to visit North Korea prior to his first summit with President Donald Trump last June. “It should go fairly well but people should not expect so much for the first time,” Rodman cautioned after his trip.
Rodman apparently wasn’t enough for the basketball-crazed dictator. ABC News reported on Thursday that Kim demanded the U.S. send “famous basketball players” to North Korea in order to normalize relations between the two nations. According to two U.S. officials, the request was made in writing prior to the second summit between Kim and Trump, which took place in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February. North Korea even requested the athletes, which would be sent as part of a cultural exchange, be mentioned in a potential joint statement on denuclearization.
A joint statement was never made, however, as Trump abruptly “walked” from negotiations. “Sometimes you have to walk, and I think that was one of these times,” he explained at a press conference before boarding Air Force One to return to the United States.
Despite talks breaking down — as well as the U.S. intelligence community’s belief North Korea has no intention of denuclearizing — Trump has continued to praise his relationship with Kim. “Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea & will do nothing to interfere or end it,” he tweeted last week. “He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!”
Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2019
The tweet came after news broke that North Korea launched short-range missile into the Sea of Japan on Thursday. As he touted the fruits of his relationship with Kim, Trump leaned on the fact that the nation had stopped testing missiles. Before the launch last week, North Korea had not tested a missile in over 500 days. The test last week may have only been the beginning. On Thursday, North Korea launching two more short-range missiles into the East Sea between North Korea and Japan.
Unfortunately for the fate of civilization, Kevin Durant may not be available for a few weeks. The Warriors beat the Rockets on Wednesday night to move within one game of reaching the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive season.