A human rights group wants former basketball star Dennis Rodman out of the NBA Hall of Fame, thanks to the former Chicago Bulls star’s visits to North Korea.
Rodman used to be known as an eccentric forward whose hair changed color more often than most chameleons, but his post-NBA career took a turn for the strange even by his own metrics.
Rodman’s visited North Korea five times, chatted with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and called the notoriously brutal dictator a “friend for life.” Rodman’s latest visit came as American citizen Otto Warmbier was still imprisoned by the North Korean government, and that appears to have been the last straw for The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1994.
“Rodman has long been known for his eccentricities, but this has gone too far,” the organization wrote in a Change.org petition aimed at removing Rodman from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “As a professional athlete and an NBA Hall of Fame member, Rodman is called to be a role model and set an example for the next generation. Individuals that praise murderers have no place being idolized by Americas youth or in any Hall of Fame in the United States.”
The petition has 671 signatures as of this writing.
A State Department official left with Warmbier at the time Rodman got to North Korea earlier this month, but the two events reportedly had nothing to do with each other. Warmbier had been in a coma for 15 months after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for attempting to take a propaganda poster out of the country. He died soon after arriving in the U.S.
“According to the Halls Board of Trustees, a candidate may be removed if he or she ‘has damaged the integrity of the game of basketball,'” the petition reads, though it refers to candidates under consideration for induction and not those who are already members. “Clearly, Rodmans actions have tarnished the name and reputation of basketballand it is time that he is removed from the Hall of Fame.”
We’ve reached out to the Hall of Fame for comment, and we’ll update here if they respond.