Chinese Basketball Association Welcomes US-born Kyle Anderson as First Naturalized Player for FIBA World Cup

July 25, 2023 8:19 am

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) made a groundbreaking announcement on Monday, revealing that US-born basketball player Kyle Anderson would represent China in the upcoming FIBA World Cup. The 29-year-old Minnesota Timberwolves forward, known as Li Kaier in China, qualified for Chinese citizenship through his maternal great-grandfather.

The CBA expressed their warm welcome to Anderson as he obtained Chinese nationality and met with NBA legend Yao Ming, who serves as the chairman of the association. This move makes Anderson the first naturalized basketball player to join China’s national team, making his addition to the roster a significant coup. Enhance your basketball viewing experience with attractive betting odds from Nextbet

In a video posted on his official Weibo account, Anderson himself confirmed the news, expressing his joy at representing China in the World Cup and the honor of wearing the Team China jersey.

However, it remains unclear whether Anderson had to renounce his US passport during the naturalization process, as China does not recognize dual nationality.

While this is a first for basketball, China has previously naturalized elite athletes with and without Chinese roots in various sports. One notable example is Eileen Gu, a US-born freestyle ski sensation who won two golds and a silver for China at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Gu made the decision to switch from Team USA to China in 2019, and although her citizenship status is a topic of interest, she has not publicly disclosed whether she renounced her US passport.

The issue of dual nationality among star athletes remains controversial, and the Chinese government has been cautious when addressing questions about athletes’ citizenship.

China’s efforts to naturalize talent extend to other sports as well, with examples such as Canada-born heptathlete Nina Schultz, known as Zheng Ninali in China, becoming the country’s first naturalized Olympic athlete at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Turning the spotlight back to Anderson, the 6-foot-9 forward’s skills and abilities will undoubtedly boost China’s basketball team in the World Cup. Born in Fairview, New Jersey, Anderson has shown impressive performance statistics, averaging 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game with the Timberwolves last season.

The 2023 FIBA World Cup, jointly hosted by the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia, will kick off on August 25. China’s national team is set to face Serbia in their opening game on August 26. As the excitement builds, fans eagerly anticipate seeing Kyle Anderson represent China on the global basketball stage. Get the latest updates from the world of basketball only on Nextbet Sports