NEW CHALLENGE: Usain Bolt
CROSSOVERS, FAST BREAKS and dunks; not the type of talk you expect from Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. But that's exactly what the Olympic star is looking forward to ahead of his NBA All-Star Celebrity match debut tomorrow (Feb 15) in Houston.
Bolt will join a myriad of fellow A-Listers at the NBA affair, which forms a much-anticipated part of the All-Star weekend activities. And the powerful Jamaican, the consummate showman, is promising "fun and excitement".
"I am very excited," Bolt beamed, minutes after completing his first competitive race this season - a 400m at the Camperdown Classic inside the National Stadium last Saturday.
Bolt, the only man to win back-to-back Olympic sprint doubles after successes at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 games, is a big fan of the NBA and particularly the Boston Celtics, whom he spent some time with in 2008.
The 100m and 200m world record holder is not professing to be the next MJ (Michael Jordan), but he is planning to pull a dunk on someone when he lines up alongside the likes of comedian Kevin Hart, Ne-Yo, Common, Nick Cannon and former NBA great Dikembe Mutombo.
"It's something big and something fun for me, so I'm just looking forward to going out there and having fun and try to dunk a few times," said Bolt, who gave up early basketball ambitions for football, cricket and his bread-and-butter track and field.
"I'm not a good shooter but hey, I used to be a good player. I can't say I'm any good right now, because I've stopped playing basketball and started playing football, so I'm really rusty, but I'm sure I can dunk," Bolt assured.
When asked about any concerns of injuring himself during the event, which will be aired by ESPN, Bolt said: "I can't go there thinking about that. It's just fun, so it won't be anything aggressive. It's just guys who are just playing for fun, so it should be easy and fun."
The All-Star Celebrity teams will be coached by James Harden of the Houston Rockets and his former teammate Russell Westbrook, who plays for the 2012 Western Conference champions and NBA finalists, Oklahoma City Thunder.
If anything, Bolt will be happy to know that he will be the biggest track-and-field star to play basketball in prime time. Controversial American track-and-field star Carl Lewis, a regular Bolt critic, was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1984, but never stepped foot on the court, as he was never signed by the team.