I read an article recently that referred to me, Jerry Burrell, as the Michael Jordan of Acrodunking. (http://www.peterrobertcasey.com/2008_12_01_archive.htmllook at the December 8, 2008 posting) At first I thought, “Wow, that’s cool that someone appreciates what I do/have done enough to be generous with their praise.” Then as I thought about it, i began to see that this person’s opinion has some merit.
If you’re sensitve about these issues - this is where you begin to seethe and think “how dare he compare himself to Michael Jordan”, but if you will just walk with me maybe you will see that I did not make the comparison, I am just providing info to support it and maybe you will see the comparison without the emotion that currently has you bent out of shape.
Michael Jordan is one of many basketball players good enough to make it to the NBA and make a name for himself. He joined a sport that had been around for a while and took things to a higher level. He not only made a name for himself, he transformed himself over the years and in some ways transformed the game and those around him. I am one of a handful of athletes good enough to make it to the NBA mascot world that included a form of entertainment that had been around for a while and make a name for myself and in some ways transformed the game of NBA mascot dunking and those around me.
It goes without saying that with the help from Nike and his teammates, Michael Jordan became a household name and many would say he is the best to have ever played the game. He did things no one else did at the time but that many are doing now. He was relentless in his determination to win and this drove him to make things happen by any means necessary. People around him almost out of necessity became better players just to keep up.
He was not just an excellent individual player, he inspired those on his team to strive for excellence. He set the example for the kind of work that was necessary to be great. Physically he was gifted, but I will suggest that it was his mental acuity that led to his greatness. His attitude, his focus, his determination and his desire to win.
I am not an avid NBA fan but I know enough about Michael Jordan to know that it was his attitude, his work ethic and his passion for the game that made him who he was.
Back to the comparison.
Those who know me, know that I rarely toot my own horn. I will talk about ACRODUNK all day long and how awesome the team is but I rarely focus on my achievements. I let the videos, articles and others do the talking for me. Having said that, bear with me as the horn toots.
Prior to 1993, acrobatic slam dunk performers were not dunking from the free throw line. Very few ball transfers were being done and dunking without the trampoline by an NBA mascot was unheard of.
From 1992 when I started dunking as Turbo-Booster with the Houston Rockets to 1995 when the Rockets won their second NBA Championship and I was dunking as TURBO, more innovations were introduced to the world of solo acrobatic slam dunking than the entire decade after that.
That is a bold statement, but I challenge anyone to refute it with facts, not opinion.
See the following:
Here is the partial list of acrobatic slam dunk innovations that were introduced during that 3 year span:
-Dunking from the free throw line and beyond
-Dunking from 1 mini trampoline to another mini trampoline (not double-mini)
-Flip dunking from 1 mini-trampoline to another mini-trampoline
-Flipping from the floor onto the mini trampoline into flip dunks
-Double transfers (Double thru the legs, around the back thru the legs, etc)
-Front flips with transfers (Front flip thru the legs, front flip double thru the legs)
-Roller blade dunks off ramp with transfers and alley oops
-Front flip dunks on roller blades off ramp
-Rappel dunks from the rafters
-Swinging rappel dunks from the rafters
-Two ball front flip dunks
-Two ball 360 dunks
-Layout and pike front flip dunks
-Back flip dunks off the backboard
-Back flip dunks off 16 foot ladder
-Front flip dunks through 12 x 8 ft paper banners
-Front flip dunks through banners with the basketball on the blind side of the banner
-Two-man dunk shows as part of mascot performance
-Creation of the blueprint for NBA dunk teams (TEAM TURBO)
-Front flip dunk over 10 ft. ladder
Many of these innovations that were introduced 15-17 years ago are still being done by acrobatic slam dunkers today and some are still refreshing to see.
With the founding of our acrobatic slam dunk team, the High “Impact” Squad in 1994 and later ACRODUNK, even more innovations to team acrobatic slam dunking were introduced. Team TURBO, the Houston Rockets Dunk Team (1996-2003) populated by members of the High “Impact” Squad is the reason there are so many NBA branded Dunk teams around the league.
Acrobatic slam dunkers around the world were studying whatever footage they could get their hands on of TURBO and the High “Impact” Squad. This was pre-youtube, so it was “hard to get” footage. But it was out there and those who really wanted it were finding it.
I think the main point of comparison between myself and Michael Jordan is that in his game, he was doing things nobody else could come close to doing at the time and he was executing them on a consistent basis in pressure situations LIVE in front of audiences. There are players now that strive to stake their claim like Michael Jordan staked his. Michael Jordan in some ways changed the game of basketball and redefined what was possible.
I believe it is fair to say that in the acrobatic slam dunk game, WE did things nobody else could come close to doing at the time and WE did them season in and season out. There are acrobatic slam dunkers that now strive to stake their claim like WE staked ours. We changed the acrobatic slam dunk game and redefined what is possible.
See how I switched to WE. I was the person on the court performing the amazing but it was all the help off the court that made it possible. Guys like Winn Molnari, Eli Akin, Scott Budge, Kenny Smith, Bill Baptiste, John Leach and later the original members of the High “Impact” Squad - Sadiki Fuller, Keith Brown and Byron Arnold (Thomas). Of course, I was inspired by Ty Cobb, the creator of acrobatic slam dunking, and his team of Daredevils. There are a couple of other “pioneers” that inspired me like Bob Woolf who made a name for the Phoenix Suns Gorilla and Mike Zerillo who put Super HUGO on the map for the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets. Both of these guys were teammates of mine at Arizona State University and they blazed trails that I was able to walk into. And I cannot forget Paul Linne another teammate at ASU who was the original BOOMER, the Indiana Pacers mascot, and who first told me about the audition at the Houston Rockets.
Since the words ACRODUNKING, ACRODUNK and ACRODUNKER were coined by me, if there is a Michael Jordan of ACRODUNKING, why not me - the guy that not only changed the game but also changed the name.
So if someone thinks I could be the Michael Jordan of Acrodunking, who am I to argue against it.
From this point forward, I embrace it.
I wonder if Michael Jordan gets told that he is the Jerry L. Burrell of basketball ; )
What do you think?