Kyle Anderson is China’s first naturalized basketball player.
U.S.-born basketball player Kyle Anderson is represented China The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) announced Monday that it will participate in next month’s FIBA World Cup after obtaining Chinese citizenship.
The 29-year-old Minnesota Timberwolves forward, whose Chinese name is Lee Kier, was eligible for Chinese citizenship through his maternal great-grandfather.
“Welcome Anderson! Li Haier received Chinese citizenship this morning and met with (CBA) Chairman Yao Ming,” the country’s basketball governing body posted a photo of Anderson and NBA legend Yao on social media platform Weibo.
Anderson is China’s first naturalized basketball player, and his addition to the national team’s roster is considered a major coup.
Anderson confirmed the news in a video posted on his official Weibo account.
“To my Chinese fans, my name is Li Kayer. I am very happy to announce that I will be representing China in the World Cup.
It’s unclear if Anderson, who is 6ft 9 (2.06m) tall, had to give up his U.S. passport in the process.China does not recognize dual citizenship.
China, first in basketball, has acquired a handful of elite athletes, with or without Chinese roots, through naturalization.
Most notably, US-born freestyle skiing sensation Irene Gu won two golds and one silver for China at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Her mother is a first-generation Chinese immigrant.
Gu announced an “incredibly difficult decision” to move from Team USA to China in 2019. She has never publicly said whether she gave up her US passport, but she frowned at the time. She has applied for the US Presidential Scholar Program in 2021. This program is open only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents..
Mr. Gu dodges questions about nationality.
“When I’m in China, I’m Chinese. When I’m in America, I’m American,” she once said.
The Chinese government is similarly cautious about the issue of Gu’s nationality, and the star’s dual citizenship issue remains controversial.
Other naturalized Chinese athletes include Canadian-born heptathlete Nina Schultz, aka Zheng Ninari. She became the first Olympic athlete to become a naturalized Chinese at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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The Fairview, New Jersey native averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season with the Timberwolves.
The 2023 FIBA World Cup will kick off on August 25, co-hosted by the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. China will face Serbia in their opening match on August 26.