After North Korea, emotional Dennis Rodman urges no politics for a day

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After North Korea, emotional Dennis Rodman urges no politics for a day
Former US basketball player Dennis Rodman (C) is surrounded by the media as he arrives at Beijing International Airport from North Korea on January 13, 2014. Rodman returned to China from Pyongyang after a seven-day trip where he sang 'Happy birthday to you!' to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on January 8. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman is followed by journalists as he arrives at the Capital International Airport in Beijing from Pyongyang, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. A squad of former basketball stars led by Rodman had a friendly game with North Korean basketball players in Pyongyang. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
A large crowd of journalists follow former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman as he arrives at the Capital International Airport in Beijing from Pyongyang, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. A squad of former basketball stars led by Rodman had a friendly game with North Korean basketball players in Pyongyang last week. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
Former US basketball player Dennis Rodman (C) arrives at Beijing International Airport from North Korea on January 13, 2014. An emotional Dennis Rodman appeared to break down on January 13 as he apologised on his return from a controversial trip to North Korea, where he sang 'Happy Birthday' to regime leader Kim Jong-Un. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman, second right, walks with North Korea's Sports Ministry Vice Minister Son Kwang Ho, third right, upon his arrival at the international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Rodman took a team of former NBA players on a trip for an exhibition game on Kim Jong Un's birthday, Wednesday, Jan. 8. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Dennis Rodman coaches as North Korean and U.S. basketball players practice in Pyongyang, North Korea on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Rodman came to the North Korean capital with a squad of U.S. basketball stars for an exhibition game on Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Dennis Rodman huddles with North Korean basketball players and fellow former NBA stars at a practice session in Pyongyang, North Korea on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Rodman came the North Korean capital with a squad of U.S. basketball stars for an exhibition game on Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Dennis Rodman watches court side as North Korean and U.S. basketball players practice in Pyongyang, North Korea on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Rodman came to the North Korean capital with a squad of U.S. basketball stars for an exhibition game on Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Dennis Rodman, center, meets with former North Korean basketball player Ri Myung Hun at a practice session with USA and North Korean players in Pyongyang, North Korea on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Rodman came to the North Korean capital with a squad of USA basketball stars for an exhibition game on Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Dennis Rodman speaks with fellow US basketball players during a team meeting at a Pyongyang, North Korea hotel Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Rodman came to the North Korean capital with a team of USA basketball stars for an exhibition game on Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Clockwise from bottom left are Charles D. Smith, unidentified, Cliff Robinson, Rodman, Doug Christie, Vin Baker, and unidentified. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Dennis Rodman stands up to leave after he and fellow US basketball players completed a television interview at a Pyongyang, North Korea hotel Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Rodman came to the North Korean capital with a team of USA basketball stars for an exhibition game on Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. From left to right are Cliff Robinson, Jerry Dupree, Charles D. Smith, unidentified, Vin Baker, Andre "Silk" Poole and Doug Christie. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Dennis Rodman, center, and his entourage arrive at his hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea after a morning practice session on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Rodman came to the North Korean capital with a team of USA basketball stars for an exhibition game on Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Dennis Rodman waves to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seated above in the stands, after singing Happy Birthday to Kim before an exhibition basketball game with U.S. and North Korean players at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Dennis Rodman sings Happy Birthday to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seated above in the stands, before an exhibition basketball game at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Dennis Rodman tips his hat as U.S. and North Korean basketball players applaud at the end of an exhibition basketball game at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Behind him at right is former NBA player Vin Baker. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
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By Megha Rajagopalan

(Reuters) - Retired U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman appealed on Monday for the world to set aside politics, if only for a day, as he arrived in China from North Korea where he sparked an outcry with comments over an American imprisoned there.

The 52-year-old angered many people in the United States with an interview last week in which he implied that Kenneth Bae, a U.S. missionary imprisoned by North Korea, was to blame for his incarceration rather than authorities there.

Rodman, who calls himself a friend of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, apologized for the comments made during his visit to North Korea with a group of fellow U.S. basketball players.

Rodman was met by a throng of media as he made his way, flanked by burly bodyguards, through the airport terminal to a waiting car.

"I want to tell people that no matter what's going on in the world, for one day, just one day, not politics, not all this stuff," he said.

"I'm not the president, I'm not an ambassador, I'm Dennis Rodman, just an individual, just showing the world a fact that we can actually get along and be happy for one day."

He then appeared to be overcome with emotion and seemed to start crying as he moved away from the media, repeating "I'm sorry".

Rodman expressed regret over the interview on Thursday in which he implied Bae was to blame for his imprisonment, saying he had been feeling emotional after drinking.

Bae, 45, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for state subversion in North Korea, where he was detained in 2012 while leading a tour group. North Korea's Supreme Court said he used his tourism business to form groups aimed at overthrowing the government.

On Monday, Rodman expressed his thanks to "the Marshal", which is Kim's official title, for enabling his visit.

"It's amazing that I had the opportunity just to go to North Korea, and for the Marshal to give me an opportunity just to be in his presence in the city," he said. "This is not a bad deal."

Rodman had staged a basketball match in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, to commemorate Kim's birthday, drawing the ire of human rights activists. He also visited a ski resort in the isolated state.

Rodman led a chorus of North Koreans in a rendition of "Happy Birthday" to Kim.

The fading basketball star's trips had previously been financed by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, although it has now withdrawn its funding.

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