by Floco Torres
“I swear music and sports is so synonymous, cause we want to be them and they wanna be us,” Drake raps on “Thank Me Now,” from his debut album “Thank Me Later.” As a fan of both music and sports, this observation has been evident to me since Allen Iverson’s commercial with Reebok and Jadakiss, when they released his “A5” sneaker during the height of both of their careers. Countless basketball players have released songs over the years (Shaq, Allen Iverson, Damian Lillard, Lonzo Ball) or involved themselves behind the scenes (Carmelo Anthony put funding behind former Hip-Hop punchline king Cassidy for a short time).
The risk and reward ratio can be slim depending on your approach, but Brian ‘Essince’ Collins is up for the challenge as he looks to bring professional basketball to Akron through the American Basketball Association (ABA) with his team, the Akron Aviators.
Brian is the CEO of Royal Heir Entertainment, a Marketing/Media company that provides management and support for artists. He promotes their work through his publication “Royal Heir Magazine” and supports them from the underground to the major labels. In the past issue of Royal Heir Magazine,” Brian wrote all the articles, including the cover story on Hip-Hop and Pop artist B.o.B.
Brian played basketball throughout his youth, in college and overseas, but he fell out of love with playing when the style of the game switched to the “run and gun” play that has been sensationalized in pro ball today.
“It was always a dream to expand into sports, but initially I thought it would be in sports management,” says Brian.
A conference call he co-hosted led to meeting Tjuan Washington, CEO of the media/entertainment division and team owner of ABA. They later worked together on events and promoted the league’s 50 year anniversary. Through their partnership, Brian learned more and more about owning a team. When the opportunity presented itself to have a professional basketball team in Ohio, he jumped at the chance to start a team here in Akron.
The goal with the Akron Aviators is to create a solid competitive team that can become a funnel for players to reach the NBA if they choose. The team will also become a positive influence for local kids in Akron.
Brian wants the team to be involved in the community. Whether it’s through organized cleanup days, speaking at schools, volunteering at community centers or providing opportunities for Akron artists to perform at halftime or at after parties, community is critical.
On the court, Brian wants his coaching staff and players to reflect a well rounded style of basketball that will groom players to be effective in any system.
“I don’t want this to be, ‘hey let’s have some fun games for a few years until people get tired of it,’” says Brian.
The Akron Aviators want to become “a viable option if you want to continue to play professional basketball.”
The team is in the final stages of getting ready for their first season this November. You can find more information on games, tickets and more at AkronAviators.com