Dennis Rodman is getting called for traveling.
A human rights organization says,the former NBA star should stop committing flagrant ethical fouls by visiting North Korea and publicly praising Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s brutal dictator. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) has started multiple petitions to have Rodman ejected from the Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Rodman has long been known for his eccentricities, but this has gone too far,” reads VOC’s petition, posted on Change.Org. “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 America’s youth or in any Hall of Fame in the United States.”
According to bylaws from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s board of trustees, a candidate may be removed if he has “damaged the integrity of the game of basketball.”
The head of the VOC says that Rodman’s behavior is unacceptable.
“He’s done a great disservice to the sport of basketball,” Marion Smith, VOC’s executive director, told Fox News. “Dennis Rodman has been carrying this dictator’s water for a long time. He has praised Kim Jong Un repeatedly in an extremely favorable light with no mention of the regime’s victims.”
The Change.org petition has already garnered 1,179 signatures. Another 300 people have signed up on standunited.org.
Representatives for Dennis Rodman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Dennis Rodman traveled to North Korea on June 13 for his first visit to the communist nation in more than three years. The 56-year-old, who won five NBA championships as a player with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, previously traveled to the communist country in January 2014.
On that trip, Rodman sang "Happy Birthday" to Kim Jong Un, who Rodman referred to as his "best friend" and along with a squad of former NBA stars took part in a pickup game as part of what he called "basketball diplomacy."
Kim Jong Un, who briefly attended boarding school in Switzerland, reportedly is a fan of the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls teams that Rodman played on in the late 1990s.
When asked by reporters in a Beijing airport on his way to Pyongyang about several Americans currently detained in North Korea, Rodman said the issue is "not my purpose right now."
The basketball star arrived in the Hermit Kingdom on the same day that Otto Warmbier was medically evacuated to the United States while in a coma. He died a few days after his return home to Cincinnati.
“He’s an example of celebrities being used by a dictator,” the VOC’s Smith said. “They are often used to help portray them in a better light.”
“It’s interesting that Rodman was in North Korea at the same time that [American student Otto] Warmbier was being released.”