Above all, BE true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it. ~Hardy Jackson
As the 3:00 hour approached, I was pleased to receive a phone call from Milani Malik, a woman of the hoop, and BEd-Stuy native. Though the initial phone call was set to BE a formal interview, I am pleased to say that it grew to BEcome a conversation among friends. In her heavy “Yankee” accent, it was not difficult to recognize and identify with her humble character, go-getter mentality, competitive spirit, and wise sentiments that she expressed, that hold very true regarding life in general. Throughout the interview, Malik stressed the importance of remaining focused and humbled, the importance of familial support, and using various technological resources (YouTube, twitter, Facebook, tumblr, etc.) to allow yourself to BE marketable, thus empowering us to BEcome the “Jack and Jill’s of All Trades” that we all innately desire to BE. She further expressed the importance of not growing complacent by simply expressing the adage, “Closed mouths don’t get fed,” and confirming that whatever dream we pursue, “Don’t allow the grass to grow under your feet,” by steadily making moves, grinding to reach the next height.
As the interview progressed, Malik highlighted the importance of having a competitive spirit not only on the basketball courts, but also in life’s travels—which is more than sound advice. Additionally, she emphasized the importance of not buying into stereotypes that the society or the media perpetuates, for she states that not all women in basketball are testosterone-driven, or let alone not as serious about basketball in comparison to their male counterparts. She steadily expressed that we must not feed into stereotypes, to BE one’s own person, and to make traditions, rather than rest on them. Finally, she asserts that basketball is all about respect, and that showing and proving is the only way to obtain respect, for it speaks volumes to one’s character.
Moreover, throughout the interview, I found myself inspired by Ms. Malik, simply BEcause she left these profound words with me, “Everyone has a story, just waiting to unfold and BE told.” Here is a detailed glimpse into our conversation:
Introduction: First, on BEhalf of BE Magazine, I would like to extend our thanks to Dream Team Sports and Milani Malik for making this interview possible. Thank you for BEing wonderful members of our BE Team.
Upon reading your biography and reviewing the various interviews that you’ve BEen involved in, even BEfore this interview, I would like to commend you for your achievements- past, present, and future, for I know there’s more in store for you!
As a BEd-Stuy native, descriBE the growth you’ve experienced there.
Growing up in BEd-Stuy has taught me versatility. I was actually born in Brooklyn, where my father delivered me at my aunt’s house. (I was not delivered at a hospital, as my father is a very spiritual man.) Later, I moved to Queens, and eventually attended school in Florida. (These different moves throughout life has truly shown how versatile and how she is willing to adapt to change, which translates on the court as well.)
Who or what inspired you to play basketball?
I sought to finish what my father started. (Her father, Oba Malik was a baseball player who played minor league baseball for Cincinnati—and was the last cut to the New York Yankees.) I started as a sprinter, and at 11, one day, I followed my sister to basketball practice. I figured that if they could do it, so could I, hence, my competitive spirit was born, since guys dominated the courts. Plus, I was always told—as crazy as it may seem—I was told that with any dream, to write it down, and literally sleep on it (to this day, she still keeps her journal), for God will work in your favor and see to it that they happen—on His time.
What is your basketball philosophy?
BElieve in what you project. BElieve in self, and keep God first. Put the work in. Though test may BE thrown, know that God will BE!
Proudest basketball moment?
I am blessed to say that I have many. My proudest moments are when I worked out with streetball and NBA legends Richard “Pee Wee” Kirkland and Nathaniel “Tiny” Archibald at Riverbank. I’m amazed at what they have taught me at these free service clinics. Not only have they taught me drills in offense and defense, agility and footwork—they most importantly taught me confidence and how to mentally prepare for the courts. Invaluable lessons. Also, at the Nike Pro AM, I was able to watch and receive pointers from NBA forward Kevin Durant—through this, I have realized that I am both a student and player of the game.
What do you attribute to your success?
My family. They’re truly my backbone. I am indebted to my parents for teaching me and informing me that I am truly on the ladder towards greatness. They also taught me that politics and timing is everything. These statements are ingrained in me, and are reflected in my actions.
If you weren’t a basketball player, what career path would you choose? What would you still like to pursue?
Sports run through my veins. I would have loved to continue track and field if I weren’t pursuing basketball. Or, I would have finished where my father left off in the sporting world. My father is 64, and was the only black male on his team—he’s a history maker. He discontinued sports to have a family, and I would love to continue his legacy. Plus, I think it would BE dope to start a training camp with the WNBA. I would like to pursue sports modeling, and working with various cosmetic lines, like the Milani Cosmetics brand: “Milani for Milani!” could BE a slogan, you know?
How do you, or what do you do to get in the zone BEfore games?
Everyone has certain things that we do to help us perform BEtter, and I’m no different. For example, I love my eyeliners, fragrances, and I love to maintain my body in a said fashion. Plus, I love to have my hair done, the works. I’m a firm BEliever that if you feel good, look good, you’re gonna play good.
If you could play one on one against any player, male or female, who would it BE and why?
Chris Paul BEcause he is my favorite player, and I look up to him as a scoring point guard. I could learn so much from him, so I would love to pick his brain.
What is it like playing basketball overseas versus playing basketball in the states?
Overseas, in comparison to the states, the standard rate of pay is a difference. However, the main difference I see is the respect level. Overseas, the respect level for women’s sports is greater. In the states, politics are everything—for sometimes, it seems as if you do not have a background in Division One schools, like UCONN, UMASS, Duke, etc., talent may be overlooked. This is why it’s equally important to make yourself marketable inside, as well as outside of your field. Also, you have to BE able to hold your own and let your talent and determination speak volumes.
What is your off-court style?
My cousin is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, so I definitely rock with the advice she lends. I would describe my style as sporty, but sexy. I love to dress for the occasion. I’m a fan of skinny jeans, cute tops, etc. I like to BE fly. Period.
What songs are on your pre-game playlist?
I enjoy different kinds of music. I enjoy Chris Brown, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Adele, and Kanye West. I’m into R&B and Hip-Hop, but if it’s good, it will BE played. As for new records, I’m into “Theraflu” by Kanye West. (*Plays a piece of the record for me in the background. Dope record, readers! Cop that! *)
Any upcoming projects? Current projects?
I am working on a few books. I love to write. I recently filmed a BEauty/Women’s Empowerment Elizabeth Arden commercial that will BE coming out in the fall. I look forward to BEing a part of Bobbito Garcia’s upcoming documentary as well. On April 16th, I will BE playing in the Poconos Charity Games with the American Basketball Association. Also, in two weeks, I will BE working with “Trick My Site,” like a play on the show “Pimp My Ride,” as a TV Podcast, and they will BE following my routines in order to revamp my website.
Any final thoughts, words?
I can honestly say that I am taking baby steps, yet big strides heading toward my ultimate goal. As I reach my goals, I continue to learn about diligence and patience. I know that God has something in store for me! BElieve in yourself!
Lastly, when you’re signed, which will BE soon, could you sign my basketball, and could I have your rookie card?
Girl, yes! Of course.
Support the movement by BEing sure to like Milani Malik’s Facebook fan page at facebook.com/MilaniMalik11, and follow her via Twitter @MilaniMalik.
Written by: C. Starr
BE Magazine Staff Writer