he lasting question of Dennis Rodman's exhibition game against the North Korean national team in Pyongyang this week is why other American players, including Kenny Anderson, Vin Baker and Doug Christie, went along. Naturally, one assumes that these retired professional players agreed to make the trip to get a payday. That's typically what professional athletes do: play sports in return for payment.

In an interview on CNN this weekend, Charles Smith -- who has said he travels with Rodman often -- insisted that the Americans did not take money from North Korea.

[CNN HOST VICTOR BLACKWELL:] I've got one more question that I think we glazed over and it was about the compensation. I don't mean to belabor the point, but quite bluntly, was there any compensation - any money that came to you from the North Korean government?

SMITH: Absolutely not. I think I'm astute enough to understand the dynamics, especially collecting monetary dollars from North Korea. No, we did not get paid from North Korea at all.

Note the language: Smith said that the team "did not get paid from North Korea at all." That leaves open the question of who did pay the team, and what their motivations to have Rodman and crew play in Pyongyang in a showcase for a brutal dictator were.