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'Don't be afraid': Dennis Rodman holds tryouts in North Korea

Rodman leaves a sports arena after a practice session for North Korean basketball players in Pyongyang on Friday. David Guttenfelder / AP

AP reports: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman held tryouts Friday for a North Korean team to face a dozen NBA veterans in an exhibition game on leader Kim Jong Un's birthday next month - though he hasn't convinced all the players on the American team that it's safe to come to Pyongyang.

The flamboyant Hall of Famer said plans for the Jan. 8 game are moving ahead but some of the 12 Americans he wants to play are afraid to come.

Some foreign analysts say the dramatic purge and execution of Kim's once-powerful uncle less than a week ago has cast doubt on Kim's future. But officials in North Korea say there is no instability and Kim remains firmly in control.

"You know, they're still afraid to come here, but I'm just telling them, you know, don't be afraid man, it's all love, it's all love here," Rodman told The Associated Press after the tryouts at the Pyongyang Indoor Gymnasium. "I understand what's going on with the political stuff, and I say, I don't go into that venture, I'm just doing one thing for these kids here, and for this country, and for my country, and for the world pretty much." 

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman poses for pictures with North Korean basketball players and government officials during a practice session in Pyongyang on Friday. David Guttenfelder / AP
Rodman plays one-on-one with a North Korean player in Pyongyang on Friday. Kim Kwang Hyon / AP