x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un make for sports' oddest couple

Among all the odd couples since the dawn of mankind, the game is over for oddest of all. The most peculiar pairing, surely to remain so in perpetuity: Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang.

Many of us are drawn to sports because we regard them as a safe harbour from the insanity of the real world.

Hang out long enough within these borders, however, and we are left to wonder whether sport generates more wackiness than does life as a whole. Herewith, a summary of the silly, illogical, head-shaking happenings in recent days ...

Among all the odd couples since the dawn of mankind, the game is over for oddest of all. The most peculiar pairing, surely to remain so in perpetuity: Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un. Rodman is the retired Hall of Fame basketball player so eccentric that, upon voicing a desire to play his final game in the buff, he was taken seriously.

For once, the guy known to wear dresses, decorate his body with gobs of ink and metal and change hair colours like others change bedsheets showed some restraint and stayed clothed for his farewell.

A television show arranged his visit with the North Korea dictator in Kim's ultra-isolated land. Rodman, fond of hanging rings and loops from his nose, ears and who knows where else, managed to pass through airport security. Upon arriving in the country, he watched some hoops and ate sushi with the chubby one.

You decide which is scarier:

1. Rodman declaring about the ruler of a nation of oppressed, jailed and starving inhabitants: "I love him - the guy's awesome."

2. Kim getting the impression that every American is just like the heavily tattooed one.

Speaking of tattoos ...

Spend nine hours having your arm blanketed by a likeness of your father, and you might experience some unwanted after effects. The next day, the Texas Rangers player Elvis Andrus removed himself from a spring training game, citing pain.

Evidently, the tattoo artist did not love him tender.

"I'm done with this," Elvis said, although he expressed no regret that Mr Andrus, who once looked protectively over Elvis's shoulder, now can look at him from his shoulder.

Speaking of fathers and sons ...

A woman filed a paternity suit against Michael Jordan regarding her boy. OK, that happens in sport.

Except the boy is 16 - years, not months - old. And, in violation of all common sense that says the mother should keep the boy's identity private in a celebrity case, she apparently encouraged/ordered him to film a YouTube video.

In it, he pleads with Jordan, who denies being the father, to assume a greater parental role.

Bad call, Ma, exploiting your child to exact revenge on your scorned lover by shaming him.

Speaking of manipulated teenagers ...

Only in the United States do universities put so much emphasis on sport teams. Their squads are stocked with youngsters who enrol after 12th grade, at the age of 17 or 18.

Universities are dipping deeper into lower grades to recruit youngsters, and the height of this absurdity was reached when an eighth-grade football player - that's 14 years old - received an offer from Alabama, the national champions, following one from recent titlist Louisiana State.

Geez, 14 year old boys should not have to weigh decisions heavier than what to wear to school and which girl to invite to the dance. They cannot sign until their final year of high school, anyway, which puts this poor eighth-grader in play until 2017.

Spare him from becoming the object of a tug-of-war between millionaire coaches whose lives of wealth and entitlement have moved them out of touch with reality.

Speaking of crazy money ...

Proof that timing is everything, the Baltimore Ravens lavished a US$120 million (Dh440.4m) contract, nearly half guaranteed, on Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. Thus did a most capable quarterback - fifth best, maybe? - become the highest-paid NFL player ever.

Flacco said he interpreted the windfall as a sign of respect from the Ravens. So, what amount would have demonstrated a lack of respect: $110m? $115m?

Soon after the deal went down, Flacco was spotted ordering from a McDonald's drive-through window. Hey, Joe, two words: gourmet burgers.

Speaking of drive-through ...

Nascar drove through a patch of controversy by approving as a sponsor of an upcoming stock car race the National Rifle Association (NRA), one of the US's most polarising outfits. The NRA, whose members include firearms owners, is opposing stricter gun-control laws after a mass school shooting. Its stance has alienated much of the nation.

While accepting the association's money might delight Nascar's gun-loving core, it does not exactly widen the limited sport's fan base.

Speaking of wide fans ...

Wide-body football devotees in the US, where obesity is a, uh, growing problem, can purchase extra-large seats in designated sections at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Never before has the quadrennial event announced such special accommodations for big cabooses.

Maybe Rodman can return the favour and buy a seat for his chubby North Korean pal.

 

sports@thenational.ae