Greg Marius, a former signed artist to Profile Records, was thinking business outside of Hip-Hop before Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs was able to go to the clubs! Marius took the time out to speak to The Industry Cosign about what makes him legendary.
How long have you been running The Entertainers Basketball Classic (AKA Ruckers) and how did it initially get its start?
I have been running the EBC since 1982 as a player and founder. We never was aka Rucker. It started with a friendly challenge by the Crash Crew that became the first game at Mount Morris park in front of a capacity crowd.
When you started the league, what was the purpose and did you ever anticipate it becoming the type of legendary street ball tournament it has become?
The purpose was only to play one game against the Crash Crew, who we beat by 59 points. That game was not only witnessed by fans but every rap group who had a record out was there and challenged us and I decided to create a weekend tournament. I never anticipated being more than a place for us to come have fun and play the sport we enjoyed so much.
Why do you think the league got so popular and impactful?
The league got popular because Hip Hop was new and hot and every rap group who was relevant at the time was a part of the league.
When did you realize that what you started was a big thing to the general public and Harlem specifically?
I realized after the first 2 years and I didn’t want to continue running the tournament by myself and my boy Richard Wheeler, that I had enough. And while working at AJ Lesters that following summer, I found many people recognizing me and asking why I didn’t have the tournament this summer? This made me realize that I felt what they was feeling and I vowed to myself I would start it back and keep it going. So I started back at a park closer to where I lived, which was 139th st park.
Who was your first ‘celebrity’ ballplayer and who was the first ‘Rucker’ basketball player to make it to the pros?
The partnership happened when I met Shawn Bryant, who use to work at the NBA and had started a sports marketing company. He was friends with Adam Silver. They understood the impact I had on their younger players, who were risking their careers playing in an outdoor tournament, even when it was forbidden for them.
You were able to create other businesses outside of the tournament, would you like to tell us what they are and if you have any plans to expand to other businesses?
I created the first traveling team for streetball, a sports bar in Harlem, a merchandizing line and EBC America, where we rented Madison Square Garden twice and The Barclay Center. We plan to operate our South Beach weekend event again.
Why do you think The EBC is still so popular amongst basketball enthusiasts?
We are the foundation and any good foundation, others follow. But you always come back to the foundation. Plus, we are visionaries and creative. We look for the next edge.
Many people don’t realize you actually were, not only a rapper, but a signed artist to Profile Records. What led you to become a rapper and how did you make the transformation from artist to executive? You were one of the first rappers to actually have a successful business outside of Hip Hop, when people thought Hip hop was just a fad.
I believe being an entrepreneur was always in my blood. I watched my mother and also my friend from Queens, from my grammar years, be a paper boy and know how to take his money and get the things he wanted. We had a band in which I played keyboards and I played recitals for school growing up, so I always loved music. One day my cousin came to visit who use to hang with Kool Herc. They lived on the same block. He had this bongo rock record and started break dancing. I fell in love with the whole culture and it was all uphill from there.
Where has EBC taken you that you might not have gone if it wasn’t in existence?
I meet a lot of celebrities, actresses and actors, traveled the world, met 4 billionaires and know everyone in the NBA, from the commissioner to the owners, to the players and staff. It’s been an amazing journey.
How long will Greg Marius be the commissioner of The Entertainers Basketball Classic?
I hope to pass the torch in the next 5 years so I can relax and watch it keep growing through the hands of a new young person.
Any last thoughts or comments?
Yeah, we’re not Rucker and never have been. No disrespect to them but we are EBC!