Fresh off his “basketball diplomacy” mission to North Korea, Dennis Rodman seems committed to continuing his journey of offbeat trips. After taking in a basketball game and copious partying with North Korea’s Supreme Leader, he’s reportedly planning a meet-and-greet with another major international figure: the pope.
The NBA Hall of Fame star seems bent on spreading his “peace-making” skills across the world, and with all eyes currently on the Vatican, Rodman has apparently figured he should inject himself into the conversation — in his typical over-exaggerated style, of course. According to the Associated Press, Rodman is planning to arrive in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday. And he won’t make a quiet entrance — he’ll be riding in a makeshift popemobile and launching a campaign for Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana to be elected as the first black pope.
And after his whirlwind trip to Rome, Rodman won’t be staying grounded for long. He’s already got his eye on the Eastern Hemisphere once again. Rodman told KXJB radio station in Fargo, N.D. that he’s planning a return visit to North Korea in August to vacation with the despotic leader Rodman has called a “friend for life,” a “good guy” and a “great leader.”
Late last month, Rodman became the first known American to meet Kim Jong Un, heading to the country as part of a VICE documentary and appearing cheery with Kim while attending an exhibition basketball game between the Harlem Globetrotters and North Korea’s basketball “dream team” in the capital city of Pyongyang. The visit, however, enraged diplomats in Washington, as it wasn’t an official act of U.S. diplomacy — instead, the tale of his journey will eventually be told in documentary series currently in production on HBO (which, like TIME, is owned by Time Warner).
While the unlikely pair shared meals and court-side laughs, relations between their respective countries haven’t been so cordial — even since the visit. North Korea has threatened the U.S. with “miserable destruction” not long after the country tested nuclear and long-range missile weapons earlier this year. And just this week the belligerent nation carried out a threat to nullify a 60-year-old armistice between it and South Korea, leading the U.S. to begin staging practice military drills in case tensions became further inflamed.
Rodman is mostly known for his basketball prowess, colorful hair and tattoos — not so much for his record as an international policy analyst. But if you ask him, the North Korea situation is all just a big misunderstanding. He told KXJB that he believes Kim Jong Un doesn’t want to start a war, he just wants a call from President Obama to talk things over.
“I don’t condone what he does, but he’s my friend,” Rodman says. You know you’re a good friend when you won’t let threats of your home country’s nuclear destruction get in the way of budding bromance. We can only hope that Rodman and the future Pope share similar interests.