By DAN GELSTON
2014-02-15 09:01 AM
Dennis Rodman checked into an alcohol-rehabilitation center to reevaluate his life, not give up drinking.
"I needed to decompress from all the things I was going through," Rodman said Friday by phone from Miami. "I was trying to get this game going and get everything going in North Korea.
"It was a lot."
Rodman recently spent three weeks in a New Jersey-based facility when he returned from his latest trip to North Korea. He organized a group of retired NBA players to travel to North Korea for that exhibition game. He suffered an angry meltdown during a CNN interview and also sang "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the start of the friendly game.
Rodman said he will return to the rehab center every six months "to see where I'm at."
The 52-year-old Rodman, who won five championships with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls and was one of the NBA's fiercest rebounders and most colorful personalities, denied he was an alcoholic.
"I don't need to drink," he said. "I don't need to do anything. I went to rehab just to sort things out. That's it."
He said he could curb his drinking and did not have a problem because he doesn't drink every day.
"I'm not an alcoholic," he said. "An alcoholic drinks seven days a week. I don't drink seven days a week. When I drink, I don't hurt nobody, I don't have no DUIs, nothing like that.
"I didn't go to rehab for drinking. There aren't too many people who quit drinking going to rehab. Not too many people can do that."
Rodman said he planned to return to North Korea and defended his friendship with Kim Jong Un.
"The people over there are not bad people," he said.
Rodman and Kim struck up a friendship when the basketball-player-turned-celebrity first traveled to the secretive state last year.
He said he was honored to be able to play the game in the North Korean capital and called the event "historic." Some members of the U.S. Congress, the NBA and human rights groups, however, said he had become a public relations tool for North Korea's government.
Rodman said he regretted the media attention that came with his behavior in North Korea, and not on his version of "basketball diplomacy."
"They're not watching the other players, they're not watching how they interacted with the players, they're watching what I'm doing," he said. "It's not about them. It became about me. It was about basketball players going over there for a game. That was the whole purpose. But they took it and spun it all around. Wait a minute, don't ruin this.
"They tried to ruin this."