Offended by criticism that Dennis Rodman’s basketball diplomacy was a marketing gimmick for their season finale on North Korea, the creators of “Vice,” a new HBO newsmagazine with a penchant for daredevilish themes, said Wednesday that Mr. Rodman had improved the program but was not even their first choice.

At a preview screening of the finale, the creators said they would have preferred to have recruited another former N.B.A. star, Michael Jordan, whose autograph adorns a basketball presented to Kim Jong-il, the father of North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-un, by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright during her visit to North Korea in 2000 — when relations were comparatively warmer than they are now.

“Jordan wasn’t interested,” said Shane Smith, the founder and chief executive of the Vice Media Group, the HBO partner that conceived the North Korea trip and helped persuade the authorities there to permit it.

However, Mr. Smith said, Mr. Rodman’s ready acceptance of the idea turned out to be a blessing. “It fit right into our wheelhouse, because it’s absurd,” Mr. Smith said.

Reported by Rick Gladstone of the New York Times