Retired NBA legend Dennis Rodman broke down in tears during a televised interview saying President Donald Trump was "proud of him" for his role in helping to enable the historic meeting with North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un in Singapore today.

While wearing a red "Make America Great Again" cap, Rodman became emotional during an interview with CNN, the Daily Mail reported.

"In my heart and soul, when I first went to North Korea, I was very honoured to be selected to go there," Rodman told CNN.

"Once I went to North Korea I didn't really understand what the whole situation was as far as being over there.

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"When I met Kim Jong-un, I didn't know what to expect ... but once I got to know the culture over there I felt at home."

In the bizarre interview, Rodman lashed out at former President Barack Obama.

"It's a great day. I am here to see it. I'm so happy," the former star power forward said.

"And Obama did not give me the time of day."

The former basketball star was referring to his efforts to act as a mediator between Kim and the Obama administration, which rebuffed him.

Rodman began crying when he said that he received death threats for meeting Kim in North Korea.

"I had to hide out, I couldn't even go home," Rodman said.

"I took all those bullets. Everyone came at me and I'm still standing."

Rodman said people ridiculed him when he met with Kim and predicted that he would be an effective peacemaker.

He said that he initially thought he was going to North Korea to play a charity basketball game, but then realised it was "so much more".

"I fell in love with the country," Rodman said.

"The people of North Korea have a heart, have soul, charisma, and they love each other."

Rodman said he was able to build a relationship with Kim after the Hall of Fame NBA player kept a promise to bring a professional basketball team to Pyongyang in an exhibition game for the country's ruler.

He said Kim was "not a dumb man" and that he wanted to travel the world and visit the United States.

"This guy wants to be around the world," he said.

"He wants to come to America and enjoy his life. He wants his people to enjoy his life."

Rodman, who knows both Kim and Trump, said he was hopeful the summit would lead to a new era of peace between the two countries.

"We have really put ourselves on the line to reach out to North Korea and they have been so gracious to me, my family and the United States. So let's make this happen. If Trump can pull this off, more power to him," Rodman said on CNN.

Kim understands "bits and pieces of English", according to Rodman, who described the North Korean ruler as "more like a big kid even though he is small".

Rodman arrived in Singapore late Monday night, hours before Trump met Kim for the first time.

Rodman emerged from the baggage claim area at Changi airport around midnight and told reporters he wasn't sure if he would meet Kim.

Last week the prolific rebounder, who has travelled to North Korea at least five times, said he would "give whatever support is needed" to his "friends" – meaning both Trump and Kim.

White House officials have said Rodman will play no official role in the diplomatic negotiations. Trump said last week that Rodman had not been invited to the summit.

He is one of the few westerners to have met the North Korean leader on visits to the capital city Pyongyang.

"Thanks to my loyal sponsors from @potcoin and my team at @Prince_Mrketing, I will be flying to Singapore for the historical Summit," the former Chicago Bulls forward tweeted late Friday.

PotCoin is a cryptocurrency invented to support the cannabis trade.

Trump told reporters on Thursday that he wasn't aware the 6-foot-7 (2m) former NBA star would be in the neighbourhood for the nuclear disarmament summit.

Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Singapore's Changi Airport. Photo / AP
Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Singapore's Changi Airport. Photo / AP

"Dennis Rodman? No. I didn't know about Dennis," he said in the Oval Office.

"He was not invited, but he's a nice guy. I like him," Trump added.

As he left the White House for Canada on Friday morning, the president seemed more interested in praising Rodman's athletic talents than in drafting him into the State Department.

"When you think Dennis was a great rebounder and he wasn't relatively speaking that tall. So that tells you, you know – there's a rebounding, there's a genius for that. Dennis Rodman was a great rebounder," Trump said.

Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley was less diplomatic, making it clear in a Fox News Channel interview a day earlier that Trump planned to manage just fine without the tattooed and lip-ringed athlete hanging around.

"We have a schedule set of what we'd like to see accomplished, and what we want is denuclearisation of the peninsula," Gidley said on the Fox & Friends programme. "That's been what the president has been talking about – verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation.

"I don't know what part the best rebounder in basketball has to play in that."

Kim and Rodman have famously built a bizarre friendship, and the former basketball player brought the despot a copy of Trump's book The Art of the Deal for his birthday last year.

That trip was also sponsored by PotCoin.

In 2013 the two-time Celebrity Apprentice contestant declared Kim was was his "friend for life". That came after three visits to Pyongyang that year, including one organised by the Harlem Globetrotters.

Rodman has previously claimed he was partly responsible for easing the tension between Trump and the Kim regime.

The athlete told TMZ in April that Kim has had "a change of heart" about his feelings toward Trump and the U.S.

"I don't want to sit here and say, I did this and I did that. That's not my intention," Rodman said, adding that his intention was to go to the North and be an ambassador.

In March, Rodman tweeted a photoshopped picture of his friend Kim, wearing a Make America Great Again hat.


"Hoping for this after my two friends and leaders meet next month #Peace #Love #NotWar #Diplomacy," Rodman wrote.

In a December 2017 interview with Stephen Colbert, Rodman offered to work as an envoy to North Korea.

"I'm close enough to him to the fact that he can discuss anything with me," he said.

"But the deal is, I don't discuss politics because that's not my job. My job is to be a human being, to try and connect us with him."