The Timberwolves will have five players participating in the FIBA World Cup that begins play this week. From a political perspective, the name jumping out is Kyle Anderson who has become a Chinese citizen and is expected to play for China’s national team starting Saturday against Serbia in the Philippines.
Anthony Edwards will play for the United States, Karl-Anthony Towns for the Dominican Republic, Rudy Gobert for France, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker for Canada. But Anderson has chosen Communist China—America’s No. 1 adversary and a nation with a long-term ambition to achieve global dominance.
Anderson is 29 and has nine years of NBA experience. He was born in New Jersey and attended college at UCLA, and he has been intrigued by China for a while. His maternal great grandfather was Chinese and family history is important to Anderson who visited the country a few years ago with his mother where they met relatives.
Using the connection with his great grandfather, Anderson was eligible to become a Chinese citizen and represent that nation on its FIBA team. He has adopted the name Li Kai’er.
U.S. law allows for dual citizenship. It’s not clear whether Anderson is renouncing his American citizenship but that seems unlikely with his lucrative NBA career. Giving up American citizenship is generally considered irrevocable and could cause issues with entry back into the United States. Anderson will earn $9.2 million playing in the NBA next season, per ESPN.com, while players reportedly earn a pittance competing for the FIBA World Cup.
What Anderson has done seems disrespectful at worst, and naïve at best. The Chinese Communist Party and its propagandists will utilize Anderson’s basketball participation and citizenship to its advantage. The party knows how to use sports to enhance its image and take the focus off its abuses including human rights, biological threats, spying and corporate theft in America, military armament, intimidation of Taiwan, and support of despots at home and internationally.
A former NBA authority, speaking anonymously to Sports Headliners about Anderson’s alliance with China, described it as a “horrible idea for his future.” How Anderson will be perceived by some Americans in the years ahead will include his confirmed loyalty to China by becoming a citizen in that tyrannical country.
The authority suggested Anderson’s China connection could become a distraction as he plays out the remainder of his career. NBA teams and locker rooms don’t need distractions and franchises have choices as to who fits on their teams. “Those considerations are on top (in addition) of talent,” the former insider said.
The source isn’t suggesting Anderson will be blacklisted but his Chinese connection is now part of who he is and will “hang over him.” The public and employers have a right to wonder how Anderson might be manipulated and used by a mega adversary of the free world.
The NBA and China have long held a business relationship. The large Chinese market has been a target for the league’s development of fans and revenues. But always lurking in the background, the authority said, is the realization of what the Chinese Communist Party is and represents.
Anderson was acquired by the Timberwolves last summer in a free agent signing. Playing mostly as a key reserve, the 6-6 small forward averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists. He is known for his all-around skills, unselfish play and being a good teammate.
Anderson’s profile now, though, includes more than basketball and he apparently is enthused with his citizenship decision. “Hello, fans in China, this is Li Kai’er. I’m so happy to announce I will be representing China in the World Cup. Really proud and honored to wear the Team China jersey,” Anderson said in a video posted on his Weibo account.
Timberwolves leadership didn’t respond to interview requests by Sports Headliners. In today’s individual rights environment NBA players have considerable freedom to do as they please during the offseason.
Ivan Pace, the promising Vikings free agent rookie linebacker is only 5-foot-10, and must prove his pass defense abilities, but he is impressive in the preseason. He was responsible for play calls in last night’s game with the Titans.
Not only do the Vikings stay at the Omni Vikings Lakes during training camp but so, too, do the Titans and Cardinals when they are in Eagan this month for joint practices. The hotel is part of the Vikings Lakes complex that includes the TCO Performance Center which is still considered state-of-the-art in the NFL.
Jack Gibbens, the former Gophers linebacker who started two games for the Titans last year, got the nickname “doctor” from his head coach Mike Vrabel. Why did Gibbens get that tag last year as a rookie? He’s “Dr. Gibby” because he is smart.
The August 31 Minnesota-Nebraska game at Huntington Bank Stadium (capacity 50,805) will sell out soon. The Gophers figure to be about a seven-point favorite against the Cornhuskers.
Stillwater-based Creative Charters has sold out its travel inventory for the Gophers game at North Carolina next month.
Byron Buxton, out of the Twins lineup with a right hamstring strain since August 1, still has a chance at playing in 100 games—something he has done one time in his nine-year career. He has been in 85 games and, if healthy, figures to play in most games when he soon returns.
MLB.com points out this morning that the Twins, with a 13.1 FanGraphs WAR, have the best starting pitching rotation in the majors. WAR means wins above replacement.
The Twins announced today they have switched right-handed relievers on the roster, sending Jordan Balazovic to the Saints and bringing up Oliver Ortega from St. Paul.
Minnesotan Eric Curry starts his 25th year of basketball officiating this fall and again plans to work games in the Pac-12, Mountain West and Big Ten. His wife Kelly, a former top assistant on Lindsay Whalen’s staff with the Gophers, is out of coaching and working in business.
Minnesota Wild forward Matt Boldy, with a sponsor’s exemption, will play in the PGA Canada CRMC Championship at Cragun’s Resort August 31-September 3. The course is one of two at the popular Brainerd area resort renovated by Minnesota golf legend Tom Lehman.
Hannah Boraas, headed to Montana State after leading Alexandria to the 2023 Class AAA state golf tournament title, is a protégé of former Gopher men’s coach John Means.
Da Beauty League, the summer hockey league that features NHL and NCAA players at Braemar Arena in Edina, has its semi-finals Monday night and championship game Wednesday.
The Bloomington-based CORES lunch programs featuring prominent speakers, mostly from Minnesota sports, is seeking new leadership to continue. Anyone interested in learning more about the volunteer-based organization should email Jim Dotseth, email@example.com. CORES is an acronym for coaches, officials, reporters, educators and sports fans.