Dennis Rodman admitted to alcohol rehab centre after visiting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Combination of alcohol and pressure to be a ‘super human political figure’ got better of former NBA star, his agent says

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The Independent Online

The former basketball star Dennis Rodman has checked into an alcohol rehabilitation centre, his agent said, just days after he returned from visiting the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Rodman’s agent Darren Prince said the retired NBA star’s alcoholism had turned what could have been a “historic and monumental event” into a “nightmare”.

He refused to say which facility the sportsman had been admitted to, or for how long he would receive treatment.

Mr Prince said Rodman had been drinking when he commented on the case of detained American missionary Kenneth Bae in a bizarre interview with CNN, for which he later apologised.

He returned from North Korea in “pretty rough shape emotionally”, Mr Prince said, citing the pressure of organising an international basketball friendly.

Kim Jong-un and former basketball star Dennis Rodman watch the friendly match between North Korea and an aging NBA 'All-stars' team

Rodman dedicated the match to his “best friend” Kim, and was cheered on by a capacity crowd of 14,000 as he sang Happy Birthday to the dictator. “What was potentially a historic and monumental event turned into a nightmare for everyone concerned,“ Prince said. ”Dennis Rodman came back from North Korea in pretty rough shape emotionally. The pressure that was put on him to be a combination 'super human' political figure and 'fixer' got the better of him.

“He is embarrassed, saddened and remorseful for the anger and hurt his words have caused.”

Rodman, 52, has received criticism in the US for not doing more on the trip to help the imprisoned Mr Bae, a devout Catholic missionary with health problems who is being detained in North Korea in relation to unspecified “crimes against the state”.

Rodman sings Happy Birthday to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seated above in the stands

“People forget Dennis is just an entertainer and retired NBA star,” Prince said. “The fact remains that a basketball game was played in North Korea live in front of 14,000 people and hundreds of millions around the world viewed clips of the game.”

 On CNN, Rodman hit out at his interviewer for bringing up the topic of Mr Bae’s captivity, saying he was there to “open a door” to the country for the rest of the world.

He later apologised for suggesting in the same interview from Pyongyang that the missionary had done “one thing” to get himself arrested.

Mr Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, told CNN the family were “appalled” by what the former basketball star seemed to imply.

“He was in a position to do some good and to help advocate for Kenneth,” she said. “He refused to do so. But then instead he has chosen to hurl these outrageous accusations against Kenneth. He clearly doesn't know anything about Kenneth, about his case. And so we were appalled by that.”

Rodman is the most high-profile American to meet with Kim on any personal level. The dictator’s grip over the country has been questioned in recent weeks after a bloody purge saw the execution of his own uncle, Jang Song Thaek.