Dennis Rodman says Michael Jordan turned down an invitation from Kim Jong Un

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Dennis Rodman in Singapore during the U.S.-North Korea summit. | Wong Maye-E/AP Photo

Few people from the United States know North Korea leader Kim Jong Un better than Dennis Rodman, the former Bulls forward whose visits to the country in recent years have been widely publicized. However, if Kim had his first choice years ago, the visiting basketball player apparently would’ve been Rodman’s former teammate, Michael Jordan.

Rodman brought up the tidbit during an appearance on “Megyn Kelly Today” to discuss his relationship with Kim and recent visit to Singapore during the summit between the U.S. and North Korea.

“[Kim] was asked about basketball in America, and his favorite team was Chicago, the Bulls, and he asked Michael Jordan, he asked the team for Michael Jordan,” Rodman said.

“And Michael said, ‘No, I’ll pass that one.’”

Rodman continued the story by saying Scottie Pippen was invited after Jordan, but Pippen also declined. It was then that Rodman, the third fiddle on three Bulls championship teams, received and accepted an invitation.

This wouldn’t be the first reported attempt by a North Korean leader to invite Jordan, arguably the best player in basketball history, to a visit. According to a 2006 report from the San Diego Union-Tribune, Kim’s father and then-leader of the country, Kim Jong Il, also extended an invitation to His Airness. He was reported to be a huge NBA fan.

[In 2001], Jordan’s management team was approached about the athlete making a goodwill trip to Pyongyang to meet Kim. The North Korean government, according to documents obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune, sent a letter authorizing the request, and Samsung, a South Korean electronics company interested in promoting reunification of the Koreas, had offered to underwrite the venture. Jordan respectfully declined.

It’s unclear whether that 2001 offer is the one Rodman referred to on “TODAY,” or Jordan was made additional subsequent offers from Kim Jong Un.

Rodman first visited North Korea in 2013, roughly a dozen years after that reported offer to Jordan. He’s been criticized for his relationship with Kim given the country’s history of human rights violations.

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