Former Detroit Piston and Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman is one of the most most polarizing athletes in history. Rodman’s unapologetic attitude, unique style and overall weirdness separate him from other star players throughout NBA history.

In the same vein, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is one of the most well-known, controversial and eccentric leaders in world politics. In recent years, both Rodman and Kim have become friends.

With the third and fourth parts of the ESPN Bulls documentary The Last Dance premiering on Saturday and reports coming in that the North Korean leader is on his death bed, it seems like a good time to examine the odd and complicated relationship between the two.

Kim’s relationship with Dennis Rodman — and the Chicago Bulls in general — started at a young age.

Born in 1984, Kim grew up watching the Michael Jordan-led Bulls dynasty. Despite the country’s strict restrictions on outside media, Kim and his siblings were apparently introduced to the Bulls and the rest of the NBA by the family’s childhood babysitter, cook and confidant, Japanese man Kenji Fujimoto.

In the early 90s, Kim Jong-un and his siblings are believed to have attended private school in Switzerland. During that time, Kim went by the alias Chol-Pak or Pak-Chol. Kim was described by classmates as a shy, but good student who had a fascination with basketball and the NBA. The Washington Post reported in 2009 that Kim Jong-un’s school friends recalled he “spent hours doing meticulous pencil drawings of Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan.”

Kim has also been a big part of bringing a large basketball culture to North Korea despite the team never appearing in any Olympic games or FIBA World Championship.

As for Rodman, the Hall of Famer made his first trip to the totalitarian country in 2013 in order to host basketball exhibits and later stated that Kim was “a friend for life”. Rodman’s relationship with the dictator has caused obvious concern within the U.S. but the former Bull has repeatedly defended his relationship with Kim.

“My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries. Why it’s been left to me to smooth things over, I don’t know. Dennis Rodman, of all people. Keeping us safe is really not my job; it’s the black guy’s [Obama’s] job. But I’ll tell you this: If I don’t finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something’s seriously wrong,” Rodman said in a 2013 story for Sports Illustrated.

Rodman has continued to make multiple trips to the country since 2013. In 2014, Rodman was investigated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as he brought Kim several luxury gifts.

Rodman’s most recent North Korea trip came in 2017 and in 2018, he was involved in the North Korea-United States summit.

With the recent news of Kim reportedly in a vegetative state to complications from a heart surgery he underwent earlier in the month, Rodman made a statement to TMZ Sports regarding his friend.

“I hope it’s just a rumor that Marshal Kim Jong-Un is sick,” Rodman says … “Hopefully I will find out more soon.”

“There is still so much work we have to do between both the USA and DPRK. If he is not feeling well, I am praying for his speedy recovery, so that both my friends [President Trump & Marshal Kim] can continue towards a peaceful success.”

We’ll see how this plays out.