Boston Celtics Benefit from ‘Brand Bolt’: Jamaican Usain Bolt Shows Support for NBA; Boston Celtics

By Samantha Christopher and Hume Johnson

Kevin Garnett, centre - Boston Celtics

Kevin Garnett, centre – Boston Celtics

NBA team Boston Celtics got a brand boost as the world’s fastest Man, and six time Olympic gold medalist, Jamaican –born sprinter Usain Bolt showed his support for the NBA, specifically the Boston Celtics and center Kevin Garnett.

Usain Bolt - longtime fan of Boston Celtic's Kevin Garnett.

Usain Bolt – longtime fan of Boston Celtic’s Kevin Garnett.

Known for his dominance in sprinting, the track and field icon grew up playing basketball as much as he could until his track and field coaches told him to stop. Bolt remains an avid fan of the professional game. In an ESPN live interview on Tuesday February 12, 2013, Bolt says he particularly enjoys watching Boston Celtics’ center Kevin Garnett play, as he can relate to the basketball player’s tough mentality and winning mind set. To watch this interview, click on this link –>

“I like KG the most. He’s a fighter and I’ve seen him go through a lot. He’s very tough mentally, when he goes out he’s always 150%, which for me is the biggest thing,” stated Bolt.

He also appreciates Kevin Garnett’s hard work and team efforts on and off the court. “I remember when he [KG] was injured, he was always there with his team every day, always pushing them to do the best, so for me that’s the biggest thing because in track and field there are a lot of injuries also,” Bolt said.

Boston Celtics centre, Kevin Garnett

Boston Celtics centre, Kevin Garnett

In an age of brands and reputation capital, this is a powerful morale boost for the Boston Celtics and for Kevin Garnett going into the 2013 playoffs. This public association with the Boston Cenltics brand is also important for the brand image of Bolt. The 5 time World Champion has numerous impressive world records under his belt in Track and Field but his sport remains largely unpopular among world sports, only having a presence every four years during the Olympics. Bolt’s enormous talent and infectious personality, however makes him an unforgettable athlete. He has a chance to raise his profile in the lucrative United States market and move it beyond Track and Field.

Bolt not only  played in the 2013 NBA Celebrity All Star Game but has attracted heavy media attention. In an article for Reuters after retaining his Olympic title at London 2012, reporter, Keith Weir writes that ‘He [Bolt] needs a higher profile in the United States to join the ranks of the very richest athletes but that should not be beyond the fastest man in the world. The gangly 25-year-old, tall for his sport at 1.96 metres (6ft 5in), is an advertising man’s dream. His name is made for his profession and he has won fans on the biggest global stage with a unique cocktail of cheek and cool’.

Usain Bolt doing victory lap with teammates at Beijing Olympics 2008

Usain Bolt doing victory lap with teammates at Beijing Olympics 2008

“The fastest man of all time is a big statement to be able to make,” said Joel Seymour-Hyde of sports marketing agency Octagon. “Beyond that, you have his stature. He is an iconic-looking figure. “Then you have the charisma and personality. 100 metre runners are always big on bravado but it’s unique to have someone so smiley and relaxed,” he said. Famous for his much-mimicked “Lightning Bolt” pose at the end of races, Bolt has a series of lucrative sponsorship deals. He is the face of German sportswear company Puma, which also sponsors the Jamaican national team.

Fellow Jamaican, Public relations Professor and Nation brand consultant, Dr. Hume Johnson says “Bolt has not only helped to refresh the image of Jamaica but he has the kind of brand value that can help to sell the island as more than just sun, sand and sea but a progressive nation with skilled people”.

Bolt, much like Kevin Garnett has a lot of talent in his field and hasn’t earned his six gold medals without a fight. Kevin Garnett also has a championship ring, but it did not come easily as he waited 13 years after entering the NBA to win it.

“I work really hard for what I want. Over the years I’ve learned you have to work hard for what you want,” Bolt said. Anyone who watches the NBA, specifically the Celtics, knows how hard Kevin Garnett has worked to get to where he is, a future hall of famer. Bolt’s own hard work and dedication to his training has made him one of the world’s greatest athletes. Bolt’s marketability has been compared with that of former England soccer captain David Beckham, one of the most well-known sports celebrities Britain has produced.


In the Reuter’s publication, Mike Principe of TLA, a company which represents U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones as well as baseball players and golfers.”He absolutely has the ability to crack the U.S. market,”  Although Track and field does not have the regular exposure enjoyed by the biggest U.S. sports, Bolt brand value includes his big personality, smile and humour,” Principe said. “Demographically, he is going to appeal quite heavily to the younger American male,” he added. “I think you will also find a fair number of women interested in Usain as well.”, Principe said.

Bolt’s participation in the 2013 NBA Celebrity All Star Game, the only non-American involved, and his public endorsement of a popular NBA league team, Boston Celtics has done as much for the Celtics brand as it has for the iconic Jamaica sprinter and his home country Jamaica.


Samantha Christopher is a Sports PR and Community Relations Practitioner. She can be reached at

Dr. Hume Johnson is the Founder and CEO of the Re-Imagine Jamaica Project. She can be reached at  Twitter:


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