Since we are talking mid-nineties Bulls players, we are also talking Kim Jong Un. Apparently Dennis Rodman was not the first member of the Chicago juggernaut to meet Kim Jong Un. That honor belongs to...Toni Kukoc? Apparently, so!
New York Magazine unearthed a 2009 story on possible successors to Kim Jong Il in The Washington Post that includes this bit of background on Jong Un, who matriculated at a school in Switzerland under the name Pak Un:
At his spacious apartment on Kirchstrasse, said one friend who visited, Pak Un had a room filled with American basketball paraphernalia. He proudly showed off photographs of himself standing with Toni Kukoc of the Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. It is unclear where the pictures were taken. On at least one occasion, a car from the North Korean Embassy drove Pak Un to Paris to watch an NBA exhibition game.
The piece also includes disconcerting anecdotes like "Marco Imhof, another Swiss basketball buddy, said the Korean was tough and fast, good at both shooting and dribbling. 'He hated to lose. Winning was very important,' recalled Imhof," and "He spent hours doing meticulous pencil drawings of Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan."
Things get more unsettling; let's get back to Kukoc. New York Magazine was able to track him down and ask what, if anything, he recalled of the meeting with Jong Un. His response, via email, is chilling.
"No, not really, maybe it was McDonald's tournament in Paris! I don't recollect anything else!"
Asked how it felt to know that he met a child who would become North Korea's dictator, Kukoc told us, "[I] have no opinion about it!"
What has Toni gotten himself mixed up in? What is he hiding?
The Time Kim Jong Un Met Toni Kukoc [New York]
Who Will Succeed Kim Jong Il? [WaPo]