"If I don't finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something's seriously wrong," basketball diplomat and hall-of-fame self-promoter Dennis Rodman says in Sports Illustrated's new cover story, since there is, naturally, something seriously wrong with his understanding of the peace process. "My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries," Rodman says. "Why it's been left to me to smooth things over, I don't know. Dennis Rodman, of all people. Keeping us safe is really not my job; it's the black guy's job."
As in President Obama, who has never spoken to the reclusive North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un even though Rodman reported back from his Vice-sponsored trip to met Kim in February that the young leader just wants Obama to give him a call. And, sure, Rodman remains "[t]he only American to have dealt with him," but despite an FBI debriefing, the only thing Rodman's trip seems to have gotten out of the secret life of Kim — besides publicity for the both of them — is that he's got a new baby. Rodman tells SI that he's "called on the Supreme Leader to do me a solid by releasing Kenneth Bae," the American prisoner still in captivity somewhere in a North Korean prison camp. As for his other Nobel-worthy credentials for (not) working toward world peace with Kim? "Before I landed in Pyongyang, I didn't know Kim Jong-un from Lil' Kim," Rodman tells the magazine's Frank Luntz. "I didn't know what country he ruled or what went on in the country he ruled." But ever since that fateful courtside appearance watching the Harlem Globetrotters, he's had an international awakening about his pal:
Fact is, he hasn't bombed anywhere he's threatened to yet. Not South Korea, not Hawaii, not … whatever. People say he's the worst guy in the world. All I know is Kim told me he doesn't want to go to war with America. His whole deal is to talk basketball with Obama. Unfortunately, Obama doesn't want to have anything to do with him. I ask, Mr. President, what's the harm in a simple phone call? This is a new age, man. Come on, Obama, reach out to Kim and be his friend.
Rodman is likely not among the record 259 Peace Prize candidates this year, one of whom will be announced as the recipient in October. But there are some other high-profile names on the nominees list, including Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for trying to receive an education, and, you know, Bradley Manning. And even the Nobel Committee's secretary, Geir Lundestad, admits that a winner who garners media attention can be a good thing: "In recent years, some of the Nobel Peace Prizes may have been controversial but they have added to the interest of the prize." Among them: that guy who won't call Kim. "The Nobel Committee," wrote The New York Times's Bill Keller this week, "bestowed that honor on Obama merely for not being George W. Bush."
For his part, Rodman will continue to bestow attention upon himself for simply being Dennis Rodman, perhaps as soon as his upcoming casual vacation to North Korea on August 1. "I'm just gonna chill, play some basketball and maybe go on vacation with Kim and his family," Rodman tells SI.