By Jared MacDonald – Contributing Writer
Dressed in Boston Celtics green, the six-foot-tall Greg Bullock sprints from behind midcourt with a basketball in his hands. He leaps on the mini trampoline placed just inside the foul line, launching himself into the air.
It feels like heaven… It feels like nothing else matters… You’re completely in the zone… You’re completely aware of what’s going on… That’s all that matters to you at that moment,” said Bullock.
In the air, Bullock tosses the ball behind his back with his right hand, catches it with his left hand, and slams it through the rim at the Celtics’ practice facility in Waltham, where he spends his Thursday nights working to perfect acrobatic stunts, including one of his signature dunks, the “Behind the Bull,” as a member of the Boston Celt- ic’s dunk team.
Most young adults will be working in their field of study after college, but that’s not the case for 22-year-old Bullock. The 2015 Lasell graduate majored in business administration, but another interest took his career in a new direction.
At the age of five, in his hometown of Niagara Falls, N.Y., Bullock tried martial arts for the first time, but wasn’t interested. Five years later, he was ready to give it another try as part of a summer pro- gram. He loved the instructor he had, received his gold belt quickly, and has been hooked since. He is currently a third degree black belt in Chun Kuk Do, the style created by Chuck Norris, which, in Ko- rean, loosely translates to mean “the universal way.” Bullock is working toward his fourth degree black belt under direction of Steve Giroux at Giroux Bros. Martial Arts in Newtonville.
“I always had that go-getter attitude. I just wanted the next belt, and the next belt,” said Bullock.
Kelsy Chandler, Bullock’s girlfriend of four years, has seen firsthand the drive that he has to succeed.
“He won’t let anything stop him from reaching a goal. He never makes excuses for himself,” said Chandler. “I think that sometimes he’s hard on him- self, but I think that’s what makes him who he is.”
While working at the New England Sports Academy in Westwood, he was asked to trick, which is an aesthetic blend of kicks, flips, and twists, by Kit Ackermann, better known as Boston Celtics’ mascot, Lucky the Leprechaun. Ackermann was im- pressed with what he saw, and invited Bullock to a practice with the dunk team. After practicing with the team four times, he decided to try out for a posi- tion on June 18. Roughly 15 other dunkers were in competition, but Bullock was offered a spot on the final roster with eight others, including Ackermann.
The position requires Bullock to attend weekly practices on Thursday nights at the Waltham facility where the team works on their routine, but the foundation of his skills has been a work in progress for the last 12 years.
“I think the one thing most people get wrong about it is that we just find these people and just teach them how to do the things that they do, and that’s really not the case,” said Ackermann in the video, “Kit Ackermann – The Face of Pride.” “So many of these guys, like myself, come from a very disciplined background, whether it’s in acrobatic stunting, or tumbling, or whatever their specialty is. It’s something that they’ve spent years mastering, and really making their own.”
Bullock also has to attend certain Celtics’ home games at the TD Garden, where the team performs during half time. For a typical 7:30 tip off, the team arrives around 2 p.m. for rehearsal. After rehearsal, the team grabs a bite to eat and relaxes before warming up prior to the game. During the game, the team is responsible for carrying out other tasks, like pumping up the crowd and doing the T-shirt tosses.
Many who know Bullock ask about expe- riences on the team when they see him wearing clothing he has collected since becoming a mem- ber, but not everybody is a fan of the performances.
“It’s neat and I’m sure I couldn’t do the flips and stuff,” said sports media professional and life- long Celtics’ fan, Gavin Cote. “I’m just not that into it. I don’t really pay attention to it.”
Whatever opinion a person may have about the performances, there’s no question that the job has its risks. Bullock is currently recovering from a sprained ankle suffered from landing on a ball at practice. The danger of the stunts still makes his girlfriend nervous, but she’s learned to trust him and understands it’s a part of him.
“I had to get over that a long time ago because he’s been doing it for so long, and it’s exactly what he wants to be doing,” said Chandler.
Even though his ankle kept him sidelined for a couple of weeks, he considers himself fortunate to only have a minor injury. Bullock often visits a friend who was hospitalized after landing on his neck while attempting a double front flip. Right now, his friend is paralyzed from the waist down.
“That could be me any day,” said Bullock. “You never know when your feet aren’t going to hit the ground first.”
Bullock is still young, but he understands this is not something he’s going to be able to do forever. Along with his job on the dunk team, he works as an instructor at Giroux Bros. Martial Arts, and shares the same passion as his mentor there.
“There is no greater reward than to see how your teaching can affect someone’s life for the better,” said Giroux on girouxbros.com.
In the future, Bullock is hoping to follow in his mentor’s footsteps and open a martial arts school of his own. As for now, Bullock plans to con- tinue to get stronger, faster, and lighter, and has no plans slow down anytime soon.
“Right now,” said Bullock. “My blood is all green.”