NBA player Kyle Anderson has become a Chinese citizen, Beijing’s basketball association said on Monday, July 24, paving the way for the Timberwolves forward to represent the Asian giant at next month’s FIBA Basketball World Cup.
China has naturalized a series of foreign-born athletes in recent years in a bid to strengthen its frequently underperforming national teams.
Anderson, who was born in New York and reportedly has a Chinese great-grandfather, said this year he would consider switching allegiance to Beijing.
“With the promotion and support of all parties, Li Kai’er obtained Chinese nationality this morning,” the China Basketball Association (CBA) said on its Weibo social media account, using Anderson’s Chinese name.
“We thank all parties for their support and help, Li’s family for their support, and the fans and media for their long-term attention to the Chinese men’s basketball team,”The CBA added.
The governing body posted a photo of a beaming Anderson standing with its chairman, former NBA star Yao Ming.
It did not mention whether Anderson had renounced his American passport, typically a requirement in China, which does not recognize dual nationality.
Anderson currently plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who lost in the first round of last season’s playoffs to eventual champions the Denver Nuggets.
China is currently ranked 27th in the world by basketball’s global governing body FIBA.
Beijing has made overtures in recent years to foreign athletes with connections to the country through ancestry or long-term residence.
They include US-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu, who cemented her celebrity status with a string of victories at last year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.
British-born former Arsenal footballer Nico Yennaris has also competed for the Chinese national team after obtaining citizenship.