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Jewish World Review
Dec. 22, 2011
/ 26 Kislev, 5772
Basketball the way to Kim's heart and nuclear weapons
The National Basketball Association could have saved the world a lot of grief by drafting Kim Jong Un, before he became North Korea's dictator-in-waiting.
Young Kim, like his all-around athletic father, was a serious basketball fan. At his Swiss prep school, he idolized Michael Jordan, had a Kobe Bryant poster on the wall of his dorm room and played NBA basketball nonstop on his PlayStation.
He had photos of himself with Toni Kukoc of the Chicago Bulls and Bryant of the Lakers, apparently taken during NBA games in Europe to which Kim was chauffeured by a North Korean embassy car.
And he had a large collection of Nikes that were the envy of his classmates.
Would it have hurt the Cleveland Cavaliers to take a chance on the kid if it meant he wouldn't blow up Tokyo or start a war with South Korea? He is said to be of "medium height," which in his undernourished country means he is taller than most and in the rest of the world shorter than most. Point guard Muggsy Bogues, at 5-foot-3 the NBA's shortest player, lasted 14 seasons with four teams.
True, there might be personality issues. Kim is said to be "sadistic and unpredictable," which wouldn't have stopped many colleges from recruiting him and "more mercurial and merciless" than his late father, which wouldn't have stopped most pro franchises from keeping him.
If the North Koreans are to be believed -- and who wouldn't believe a country whose motto is "dishonesty is the best policy" -- Kim Jong Un comes from remarkably athletic stock; his father Kim Jong Il, who died this week at roughly age 69, was surrounded by his wine cellar and travelling harem.
Kim senior is said to have "Dear Leader" embroidered on his bowling shirt, the one he wore when he bowled a perfect 300 in his first game ever.
At age 52, he took up golf and on a 7,700-yard course scored 11 holes in one and 38 under par the first game out and did it swinging righty and putting lefty with a putter of his own design. That's remarkable power from someone only 5-foot-2 with a tendency to fall over in his "heightening shoes" that made him 5-foot-6.
Despite suggestions that he get his PGA card and go on the tour, it was the last time he ever golfed.
His coaching career was one of his few conspicuous failures, perhaps because the North Korean soccer team has to play for the World Cup in public in a neutral country. Dear Leader was said to be relaying running tactical instructions to the coach through an invisible cellphone of his own design.
Despite the superior advice, the team was blown out three straight in the first round, including a 7-0 lost to Portugal, and returned home in disgrace to face orchestrated public ridicule.
One of Kim Jong Il's most treasured possessions was said to have been a signed Michael Jordan basketball presented to him by then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
And Kim Jong Un is expected to be glued to the TV Sunday when the NBA starts its foreshortened regular season with five televised games. Next time we start dealing with Kim over the nuclear weapons program, instead of offering gold, food and financial aid, why don't we offer him an NBA franchise for Pyongyang?
One thing is certain: The games will be sellouts -- or else.
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