Dennis Rodman has again attracted considerable attention to his "friendship" with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. But while some people find a farcical form of comic relief in this odd couple, Kim's possession of nuclear weaponry is no laughing matter.
And Mr. Rodman, the eccentric former NBA star, has committed another public-relations turnover with his most recent effort at "basketball diplomacy" in that Stalinist nation.
After he sang "Happy Birthday" to Kim on Wednesday, some of his American teammates on the squad he took to North Korea - and their families - understandably expressed their disapproval.
Mr. Rodman, chagrined by the criticism, got drunk, as he later admitted. That condition showed during an interview on CNN, when Mr. Rodman negatively - and angrily - responded after host Chris Cuomo's asked him to put in a good word with Kim for the release of U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae.
Last year, a North Korean kangaroo court sentenced Mr. Bae to 15 years of hard labor for unspecified "crimes." Predictably, Mr. Rodman, sticking up for his "good friend" Kim, suggested that Mr. Bae was at fault.
Mr. Bae's family countered that Mr. Rodman "was in a position to do some good and to help advocate for Kenneth. He refused to do so. But then instead he has chosen to hurl these outrageous accusations against Kenneth."
Mr. Rodman did later apologize, and the media spotlight seems to be turning away from his circus act in Pyongyang.
However, that doesn't erase the North Korean threat - or Kim's erratic conduct and belligerent rhetoric.
Since last August, his ex-girlfriend and uncle have been executed on his orders. And his nuclear arsenal remains a menace to not just South Korea but Japan - and at some point, possibly the U.S.
Kim's also carrying on an appalling family tradition of starving most of his populace.
He likely is holding Mr. Bae as a bargaining chip.
Meanwhile, it is evidently beyond Mr. Rodman's current powers of comprehension to see the true nature of this "friend."
But world leaders know better.
And Americans should understand that the real story in North Korea is about the growing peril presented by a cruel tyrant - not the embarrassing delusions of an NBA has-been.