Meet Arize Ifejika, the creator of More Than Basketball Management Group; an organization dedicated to the advancement of urban youth through sporting events. He has now also branched into film; in which he is the creator and actor of the popular gritty urban web-series, Attention Kills. We caught up with Arize, to find out more about his endeavors.
EGL: Give us a little bit of background about yourself. What made you decide to form a company based around the “More” of Basketball?
Arize Ifejika: I come from Immigrant Nigerian Parents and was introduced to basketball around 95/96. What really got me into basketball was the Movie Above the Rim. Then I saw a local community-based outdoor basketball tournament with sponsors and had never seen anything like this in DC. That excited me. Around middle school age, I started asking a lot of questions of everyone I could, coaches, referees, etc. and I did this for about 3 or 4 years. Eventually I was introduced to a company that I ended taking a post graduate internship with. That’s when I got my proper introduction to the basketball industry.
EGL: Did you have basketball dreams of your own?
AI: I was a fan of the game, but I grew up in the era of watching hip-hop become a thing. I knew that sports would be next. I was attracted to the lifestyle. With the dedication that it takes to be a top level athlete, it was more realistic for me to chase it from an executive position rather than a performance position. I also had a lot of older guys tell me, “Look, here are the odds of the NBA, here are the odds of whatever, but anybody can be a businessman”.
EGL: I have taken the liberty of watching two of your projects, “More Than Basketball, the movie” and “Assault on Assault”, the documentary. I definitely get a sense of exactly what your company is about. Both were very honest and to the point.
AI: Well a couple things; the basketball business is broken down into different demographics. There are a large amount of people who aspire to be athletes on a professional level but never quite get there and then you have those who are very realistic about the fact that they’re not going to get there. Those audiences are much larger and who I always wanted to cater to. I wanted to let people know about the kind of things that can happen in the basketball business.
About the movie, it was done twice. The first time I didn’t want anyone else to see it, and pretty much gave up on it. But I had a friend who was so relentless. He continued to tell me,” Let’s just do it”. It took me three years, but finally I re-did it in 2011.
EGL: “Assault on Assault, the Rise and Fall of D.C. Assault” is a self contained title. What made you focus on that team? Was it just that you are from D.C. and this was happening in your area?
AI: The D.C. Assault is a nationally recognized organization, they just happened to be from my area. I knew it would have national appeal and I also knew that the documentary would serve as the diagnostic, the specimen.
EGL: The things that you chose to discuss could be considered controversial because of how honest it is. Have you received from the basketball community any feedback, negative or positive because of what you have chosen to highlight?
AI: I received a lot of positive feedback. Of course I received negative feedback from the people who are involved more so because of their internal friction.
EGL: You have other ventures that fall under the MTB umbrella. What’s the “More”?
AI: Well I have a couple of different things. There’s a party bus, the web series, “Attention Kills” which I write, direct and act in, and then I have a clothing line (S&S Clothing), which actually started as a project when I was in college (FAMU).
EGL: What is happening this year at More Than Basketball Management and what do you hope to accomplish?
AI: Since the documentary, I’ve gotten a lot of attention nationally. I think I’m ready to take my business to the next level in terms of associating with different high-level representatives. One thing I want to make sure of is that people are into my story and my company and everything I’ve done. Now that I’ve labored I don’t have to compromise what I’m doing. People can take me for all I am, or nothing at all.
Arize can be found on Instagram @_arize and Twitter @arizeTOB
Written By: Joyanne Lawrence, Staff Writer, Modern Domestic