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ROME (Reuters) - Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman appeared in Rome's St. Peter's Square on Wednesday and said he did not mind what color the next pope was as long as he could improve the world.
The ex-NBA man came fresh from a trip to North Korea where he raised eyebrows around the world by calling its leader Kim Jong-un a "friend for life".
Rodman, sporting a garish flowery jacket over a white T-shirt, was surrounded by onlookers and reporters braving the rain outside the Sistine Chapel where 115 cardinals were choosing a successor to Pope Benedict.
"I think a lot of trust will come back into the world," Rodman said. "It don't matter what color this other guy is, I mean if he's black or white, yellow, green, who cares. As long as he goes out and does what he has to do and blesses people."
He admitted he did not know the names of any of the candidates for pope but said his favorite pontiff had been John Paul II, who was "just so cool".
Reports that Rodman would enter St. Peter's Square in a custom-built "pope-mobile" later on Wednesday were thrown into doubt after the vehicle was delayed by snow in northern Italy.
Playing with Michael Jordan for the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, Rodman was twice voted NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Reporting by Cristiano Corvino; writing by Gavin Jones; editing by Andrew Roche