Former NBA star Dennis Rodman apologized Thursday for his much-criticized outburst about an American citizen imprisoned in North Korea, saying he "had been drinking" when he made the remarks on CNN.
The eccentric Hall of Famer is in Pyongyang for a controversial NBA veterans exhibition basketball game against a North Korean team — a trip which has been filled with surreal moments, including Rodman's rendition of "Happy Birthday" to the country's leader Kim Jong Un at a packed sports stadium on Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview Tuesday with Chris Cuomo of CNN's "New Day," Rodman provoked outrage by appearing to suggest that Kenneth Bae, who has been held in North Korea since 2012, may have done something to deserve his sentence of 15 years of hard labor.
Rodman attributed his bizarre rant to stress and liquid courage.
"I had been drinking," he said in a statement released by his publicist Jules Feiler Thursday. "It's not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed.
"I embarrassed a lot of people," he added. "I'm very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I'm truly sorry."
He said the day leading up to the interview had been "very stressful."
"Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates," adding that his dream of "basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart."
"I want to first apologize to Kenneth Bae's family," Rodman said. "I want to apologize to my teammates and my management team. I also want to apologize to Chris Cuomo."
Bae's sister, Terri Chung, said her family was shocked by Rodman's comments about her captive brother.
"He was in a position to do some good and to help advocate for Kenneth," she said Tuesday.
"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."
She had no immediate comment Wednesday night after Rodman's apology was announced.
Smart enough not to take the shine off the dictator's birthday gift, Rodman's squad of former NBA players lost 47-39 to their North Korean hosts.