Saturday, June 30, 2012

Anthony "NINJA" Grant

Within ACRODUNK™, we have had the pleasure of attracting incredibly talented athletes/entertainers who have become members of our team. Some have gone on to tackle dream fulfilling projects and some are just on the edge of glory. The heavy lifting has been done, the sweat has been perspired, the challenges mostly overcome - they just need that one big break and they'll be off and running.  

One person in particular is Anthony Grant aka NINJA. I am truly thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with him over the past few years. He is professional, open to learning new things and committed to becoming better at what he does.  

As a B-Boy, Ninja has definitely made his mark.  He has a long list of achievements accumulated while performing worldwide and he is known and well respected throughout the dance world and beyond. Anthony is a passionate advocate of Dance and this might lead you to deduce that dance is the only skill in his bag of tricks. You would be wrong and need only consider the following list which highlights some of his abilities:

-Motivational Speaker
-Team Leader
-Team Player
-Neuro Physicist

OK, so I was on a roll and that last one spilled from my imagination onto the keyboard but make no mistake, Ninja is no light weight.

Some of you might even question the 2nd to the last ability, but I will stand by it at the risk of being guilty of hyperbole.  Ninja's philosophy of life is somewhere between that of Jesus without the virgin birth and messiah thing and Michael Jackson without the world domination and kiddie sleepovers. While you might occasionally hear him preach his philosophy, the real joy is watching him live it.

Anthony is honest and transparent. He cares about people and believes in using his giftedness to inspire others. He is known by people all over the world and uses his experiences to guide others to become their best selves.

Ninja is quite empathic, as he naturally relates to people and feels their pain and their joy. He is also a majestic entertainer with great timing and a natural gift to amaze. His entertainment provides people an escape from their worries.  He is humble and seeks to learn more while reminding others what makes them great.

Anthony has a great sense of humor and easily able to laugh at himself. He is quick witted and can appropriately deliver sarcasm and irony with aplomb. He has that rare ability to tap into his own internal vision and draw motivation to keep going in spite of enduring what would crush the spirit of lesser men.  

As a teammate, the thing I appreciate most about Ninja is he is always willing to do his part and do it well. Even when the role he is assigned is not high profile, he will find a way to shine.

Over the years, Ninja has helped make ACRODUNK more than just a dunk team and we are forever grateful. I can't wait for his big break to come, few people deserve it as much as he.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Your car or your body. Which do you maintain better?

I recently had the oil changed in the van that we use to tour in.  Our mechanic rotated the tires and checked the fluids.  I also got the van washed later that day.  I was reminded of a conversation I had with the fellas about maintenance.  

We had just finished a show where one of the performers tweaked his hamstring and I really wanted to stress the importance of making sure that we were taking care of our bodies.  I stressed the importance of strength, flexibility and conditioning.

We put a lot of miles on our touring van and as a result it requires more maintenance and more frequent maintenance than if we only occasionally drove it around the city.  The same is true of our bodies.  If all we did was occasionally challenge ourselves physically, we would not have to pay too much attention to our strength, flexibility or conditioning.

When I worked with the Houston Rockets, I had access to the weight room, the team trainer and the team doctor.  At one point, there was even a part-time team massage therapist which I too was able to make appointments with.

Now that I am not with an NBA team, I provide these necessities for myself.  I am not one to splurge on much of anything but when it comes to the three most important tools that I possess (my mind, body and spirit), I go out of my way to continually invest in their well being.  When it comes to my body, I have a membership to both 24 hour Fitness and Bally's, an investment that allows me to go to any of their locations nationwide.  The good thing about this investment is that because of the work that I do it is a business expense and can be a tax write off.  Fortunately many of the hotels we stay in have some sort of fitness room even if it is just a stationary bike.  It is definitely not necessary to go to a gym to maintain one's physical fitness - there are all kinds of things one can do with ones own body weight to stay fit.  

I also make what I think are wise investments when it comes to what I eat/drink on a consistent basis.

Going back to the van analogy, when we get our oil changed our local mechanic always makes sure to check our fluids.  He knows that we travel around the country and put a lot of miles on the engine and as our van's "doctor", he is vigilant about making sure he does his job to keep us rolling.

Sometimes I think he is more vigilant about maintaining our van than we are about maintaining our bodies.  Take fluids and nutrition for instance.  We had a teammate years ago that broke his femur.  Now understand that your femur is the largest bone in your body - it's your thigh bone.  He was barely 21 and appeared to be in amazing shape, yet he broke his femur.  Turns out he couldn't remember the last time he ate anything green, had a glass of milk or drank water.  He was basically living on Church's chicken and Coke (the soda).  

Our muscles and tendons and joints need lubrication and our bones and organs and "engine" need fuel.  Unless we are consuming what they need, they are not going to get it and will soon break down.  I cannot stress enough the importance water plays in the effective functioning of our bodies.  Water carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, regulates body temperature, lessens the burden on the kidneys and the liver, helps dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them accessible to the body amongst other things.  The human body on average is made up of 70% water and dehydration is the result of too little water intake.

How water benefits the human body
Study after study shows that fruits and vegetables are the key to health and wellness.  It is for this reason that I make it a habit to have a banana or apple not too far away.  Another easy way to include vegetables is eating at Subway and for fruit I carry a small cooler when we travel.  Eating well on the road can be very inconvenient but not impossible.  This is no Subway commercial but think about it: Most Subways have tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, black olives, jalapenos and banana peppers and you can get them all with your sandwich at no extra cost.  Why not get them all.  Think of it in terms of your car:  I know this is ridiculous but, let's say your car told you one day it didn't like oil or transmission fluid - the taste just didn't agree with it and it preferred Vodka and Red Bull instead.  Would you stop putting oil and transmission fluid in.  No, you would tell your car to deal with it because you know in order to run effectively it NEEDS oil and transmission fluid regardless of how bad it might taste.  So you feed it to your car anyway and hope it doesn't get revenge by refusing to play it's radio or refusing to roll down the window when you press the button.

Why would we maintain our vehicles better than we maintain ourselves?  I encourage you to feed yourself the things you NEED even if you don't like the taste of them, OR find tastier ways to get them into your system.  Don't be like the 5 year old that wants soda with every meal and refuses to eat his vegetables - that 5 year old doesn't know any better, WE DO!  

Don't be fooled by thinking that because you take vitamins, you are getting what you need.  That multi-vitamin you are taking may be doing more harm than good.  Check out this article and tell me what you think about vitamin supplements.  Not all supplementation has the potential to be harmful.  As diligent as I may be, I do not eat enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis so I bridge that gap by taking a whole food based nutritional product.  Keep in mind that if you are an athlete, act like it and consume nutrition like it.  Be Great!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


GT the Entertainer

Not too many performers in the acrobatic slam dunk game bring to the table what GT brings to the table.  But before I get into all of that. let me begin by stating the thing that allows GT to deliver what he delivers is he is simply a smart guy.  
Not only in the sense of being able to identify logical patterns which is a big part of intellect but he has the ability to also identify emotional patterns and connect them.  He has a lightning fast ability to see connections and coherently express them at will.  Combined with his penchant for telling it like he sees it, he has the gift of being funny.
His contributions to ACRODUNK are many and varied.  From graphic design to video editing and from show elements that have become iconic to just day to day team entertainment - GT has altered the trajectory of ACRODUNK for sure.
However small or large the impact might be, every member of a team leaves his/her mark.  Sometimes the impact is long-lasting and even permanent.  It is great to witness when a teammate comes to the table and takes what is already effective and powerful and makes it better.  GT has done that very thing with many aspects of our shows.      
Every great team relies on teammates that have deep reservoirs of ability and ACRODUNK has been fortunate to have many.  In recent years it has been GT’s connections that have helped populate our teams with awesome talent.  It is his gift as an entertainer that helps us be more than just a dunk team.  His gift as computer wiz that has aided our marketing, web and social media presence.  His gift of commitment that has saved many a dunk from disaster (you might have to watch the following clip twice to notice the role GT plays to make this dunk happen.  By the way, the graphic with the cool swirling ACRODUNK logo with fire and smoke at the end of the vid is GT’s work).

It was during GT’s first season with ACRODUNK, that his potential to become an effective teammate became apparent.  It was quite a busy season which we kicked off with about 90 shows over the course of 6 weeks.  G-Man got hurt just before Thanksgiving and with GT’s help we were able to get another dunker, Timothy Muscarella up and running to finish that leg of the tour.  Later as the 2nd half of the season was gearing up, another talented entertainer Anthony Grant was brought into the ACRODUNK family through GT’s connections.  (Tae Crawford and Matthew Marzo later joined our ranks thanks to GT's influence).
We went on to end that season with 2 veterans suffering major injuries and a changing roster from month to month and GT was the constant throughout it all - not without his own aches/pains and challenges.  He ended up performing in every show the core team had that season and began to find his voice as the funny man on the team.  
His catch-phrase “Stir at it!” became what was remembered most by audience members at schools across the country.  Being cool & funny is hard to pull off but because of his varied talents - dance, tumbling, dunking, humor - GT was able to win fans over nationwide.
GT’s confidence is admirable - I have enjoyed seeing the risks that he’s taken and the results that risk taking has produced.   Often times a challenge/opportunity will present itself and GT will profess his ability to handle it.  Whether he possesses the ability at the time is a minor detail because in most instances by the time the work needs to be delivered he will have figured out how to do it.
As we develop our stage show, GT’s talents as a DJ have been incorporated into the mix.  From our stint on America’s Got Talent to the shows we’ll create in the future. his role of helping create memorable shows continues.
Thanks GT for your contributions.  Although pint sized, you have gallons of talent and ability and ACRODUNK is all the better for it.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Mueller at 2011 Univ. S. Carolina performance

ACRODUNK would not be what it is if not for the contribution of the performers who have blessed us with their giftedness.  Gregory Mueller is one of many who have made a particular mark.  As I think about the progress we’ve made, the challenges we’ve overcome and the future that lies ahead of us - I am reminded of how strong we are because of Greg being on our team.
His maturity, professionalism and presentation skills are just the beginning of the depth of his abilities.  As an MC, he is polished, knowledgeable, professional and thorough.  He is able to develop rapport with all the various audiences we perform for from 1st graders at elementary schools to families gathered at festivals and fairs to millions of viewers watching us on TV.
More than all of his other skills and abilities, the core of Greg’s effectiveness is that he is a problem solver.
He quickly considers the tools we need,  the skills we need and the people we should call.  He has the uncanny ability to quickly see a variety of options and assess their viability in light of the objective we want to achieve.  Because he understands what ACRODUNK is about, he is also quickly able to consider and then discard those options that would compromise our integrity and go against what we stand for.  
As an acrobatic dunker, Mueller is a double through the legs master.  His signature ability is that he can finish any pass with a double through the legs dunk.  Any pass!  As a non gymnast, Mueller had to go way out of his comfort zone to learn how to flip dunk.  Over the years and 1000’s of shows later, he can pretty much flip dunk blind folded and clutch-dunk solo and off the pass.
There is a certain level of comfort that comes from having teammates that know what the hell they are doing and will pick up the slack when necessary.  Mueller is one of the few players in the game that can do it all.  Having provided leadership over the course of many hundreds of shows, he has experienced a multitude of challenges that give him a breadth and scope of experience unmatched by others in the game.
There are students enrolled in college right now because they were inspired by Greg Mueller.  There are young people pursuing their dreams right now because they were convinced that they matter by Greg Mueller.  There are dudes in the acrobatic dunk game who have taken their skills to a higher level because they were taking notes from Greg Mueller.
Not to discount any of our other teammates who all bring something special to the table, I have often thought how much greater our team would be if we had a few more Greg Muellers in the mix.  Greg, thank you for being the amazingly committed teammate that you have been over the years.  ACRODUNK and I appreciate you!

Check out the video below with Mueller heading the effort to make a difference in the lives of a local Houston Family.  As we were preparing to set a world record, our biggest challenge was what to do with the basketballs after we dunked them so we wouldn't land on them.  His suggestion to create a chute of some kind to carry the balls out of the performance area is what ultimately led to the ingenious solution we ended up using.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

REV_L_TION! Gamecocks Style

The 5-man version of our show REV_L_TION! is a challenge. We performed it last night at the University of South Carolina Men's game and the Gamecock fans loved it. It is not perfect yet but it definitely has just the right mixture of action, humor, suspense and amazement.

Because there are no breaks in the action, it requires that each of us be at the top of our game to pull it off. It goes without saying that not all of us is going to be at the top of our game everynight. Someone will be under the weather, someone will have an upset stomach, someone will have distractions from home, someone will have a sore this or a sprained that. But, as I mentioned the show requires that ALL of us be at the top of our game nightly to pull it off.

That is the challenge. What it means is that we have to dig deep on those nights when everyone is not "on". In last nights show 3D, GT and I were huffing and puffing and we still had 3 more dunks to go.

I remember the shows we used to do where we did a dunk and just clapped until we did another dunk and just clapped while we caught our breath until we did another dunk and on and on and on. No challenge to it. I don't miss those days, I just know I have to train harder to deliver better with this new show.

The interesting thing is that because 99.9% of the population can't do what we do, we could still do that old show and get mad love. But if audiences saw both shows side by side, the differences would be like night is to the day. The showmanship, the seamlessness, the delivery and the passion of our new show are all at such an elevated level - the old show would feel tired and dated in comparison.

It certainly helps to have the audience pulling for you and willing the ball into position with every pass. When you give it all like we do night in and night out, we've discovered the audience stands by you through thick and thin. Thanks Gamecock fans, you made performing for you so much fun and we appreciate the standing ovation!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hospitality in the UAE

Hospitality. The dictionary definition is: cordial reception, kindness in welcoming guests or strangers.

During our trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, we were definitely the recipients of massive doses of hospitality. KHP, the company that hosted us, has a roster of incredible people on it's team. From Marie, who greeted us at the airport, to Holly, who met us every morning with such a refreshing attitude, to Laura who took care of us at Formula 1 and Vicki, who tag-teamed with Laura, to Chloe and Silke, and Amanda. Each of these KHP team members contributed to making us feel special and there is something to be said for feeling like you are in good hands.

There were so many other wonderful people that were hospitable that reached out to us and made us feel special.

Fahd who went out of his way to insure that we had a great time in Abu Dhabi. The concerts to the rides to the hotel, to dinner, to just being kind and looking out for us. Thanks Fahd, you helped turn our visit into so much more.

Fadi who met us in Dubai and spent 1-1/2 days showing us the city and giving us background and insight and behind the scenes access and who sat in the emergency room and waited with us, when he could have been doing something so much more fun. Fadi, you are the man! We appreciate you.

Rachelle, you and Clint made Dubai even more cool. There is a sense that Dubai is all about appearance with little else. Yall gave our visit warmth and substance and at the end of the day a tall building or a huge fountain or massive mall just doesn't compare to becoming friends with special people. Thanks to you both.

Helena, Marwon, Swat Crew, Mighty 4, B-Boy Tommee, Jaffer, Nadim, Raz, Tom, MG, Dj Adned, DJ Chef, FireForce, Dan Magness, Mali, Sandra, Ola and so many more made our 2 weeks in the UAE an amazing experience and for that we are grateful to you all.

Sunday, November 7, 2010



We received some feedback from a school show that was done recently. Here is what a principal said,

“Our students loved the ACRODUNK performance. This was the first assembly the students have thanked me for afterwards.”

This is great feedback and in another letter from the faculty and students of this same school we were told,

“Amazing entertainment! We love ACRODUNK!...The students were captivated by the stunts as well as the personalities of the show. The message delivered by ACRODUNK was not only spoken with words but also demonstrated throughout the show....Great job ACRODUNK!...Keep up the great work and we look forward to watching your show become America’s favorite entertainment.”

“Captivated.” What a great way to describe their students reaction. This is the kind of message that tells us we are doing something right and encourages us to strive for excellence everytime we get the opportunity to perform in front of an audience.

We have been performing for schools for 15 years and are grateful for the many similar letters we have received over the years. What makes this one so cool is that neither I nor Greg Mueller were a part of this performance. Byron Thomas, Keith Brown and Sadiki Fuller were also not a part of this performance.

This performance was delivered by a team that had their first show together 3 and a half weeks prior to the show at this school. Greg (GT), Josh (3D) and Matt (Marzo) have been blowing up the spot during our SPORT OF THINKING school tour and show no signs of slowing down. While each of these guys has years of entertainment under his belt, it was only 1 month ago from the writing of this blog that they began working as a 3-man team to carry out this tour.

It would be easy to say the tour has been a success because of the systems we have in place for training and running the tour or the legacy we all strive to uphold. It would be easy to point to GT’s experience with school tours or each guys desire to be effective or even my and Greg Mueller’s influence. While all of those are part of it, I am excited to realize that most of the reason for the tour’s success is Chemistry and that these guys love what they do - and they are great at it!

There is real chemistry that exists between these guys on and off the court and when on the court, it is evident that they are having a blast and the audiences connect with that. Each of these guys has individual strengths that when combined make them a powerful force to be reckoned with.

I especially like that in the midst of the early mornings, the long stretches behind the steering wheel, the sleeping in a different bed almost every night, the non-breakaway rims, the heat, the cold, the aches, the pains, the warming up and cooling down and the missing of families and friends - GT, 3D and Marzo still have the desire to make the show better.

I salute GT, 3D and Marzo for taking ownership as they recruit young people into the Sport Of Thinking. Keep up the great work! The Legacy Continues.