Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson will represent China at the FIBA World Cup, the player said Monday after the Chinese Basketball Association announced the American had obtained Chinese citizenship through naturalization.
The 29-year-old forward from New York is the latest elite athlete to gain Chinese nationality through naturalization and the first basketball player to do so.
“[Anderson] obtained Chinese nationality this morning and met Yao Ming, chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association,” the CBA said in a post on its official Weibo account.
Not long after that, Anderson confirmed he would play for China at the FIBA World Cup, which tips off Aug. 25 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.
“I’m so happy to announce that I will be representing China at the World Cup,” Anderson said in a video posted to his Weibo account. “Really proud and honored to wear the Team China jersey.”
The citizenship could also enable Anderson to represent China at the Olympic Games in Paris next year. FIBA allows teams to have one naturalized player on their roster. Chinese media reported Anderson’s maternal grandmother was born in Jamaica to a Chinese father and Jamaican mother.
China had previously announced an 18-man squad for the World Cup, but FIBA said the final rosters will be confirmed only after a technical meeting that is set to take place before the start of the tournament.
Other athletes who were naturalized include several Brazilians who moved to China in the hopes of playing international football. In 2019, former Arsenal and Brentford midfielder Nico Yennaris, who was born in England, became the first overseas-born player to be called up for China’s national team. At the time, the Chinese Super League was also the go-to destination for soccer players seeking lucrative contracts.
It is unclear if Anderson and the others have renounced their original nationality. China has strict rules that usually prevent dual nationality for its citizens.