OVO niko drake

Drake’s closest confidant OVO Niko wants basketball to win across Canada

An interview with the co-founder of October’s Very Own and co-owner of the CEBL’s Scarborough Shooting Stars.

OVO Niko is the man Drake has described as his “closest confidant.” A founding member of October’s Very Own, Niko Carino played an integral role in the brand’s merchandising and apparel.

In 2021, Carino became a co-owner of the Scarborough Shooting Stars, a Canadian Elite Basketball League team based in his hometown. In only two short seasons of play, the Shooting Stars managed to secure the 2023 CEBL Championship, beating out the Calgary Surge.

With the 2024 Championship Weekend on the horizon this August in Montreal, the team looks to achieve back-to-back titles. Following the Montreal Alliance’s win against the Scarborough Shooting Stars last Sunday (in which the team DJ taunted the opponents by playing Kendrick Lamar’s Drake diss), we sat down with OVO Niko to talk about building a winning culture and the ever-growing embrace of basketball in the north.

Mr. Wavvy: It seems as if Alliance vs. Shooting Stars is looking likely for the Eastern Conference Finals matchup. You guys are looking like the favourites to win the championship once again. Halfway through the season, how are you feeling?

OVO Niko: It’s tough. Montreal has a great team, great coach. They’re a talented team, tough and gritty. We have our work cut out. We just kind of want to contribute to making the Eastern Conference a stronger conference. We’ll see how it goes.

MW: How are you feeling about the league, three seasons in?

OVO Niko: The league is constantly growing. The talent is really up there.I’m pretty excited about where it’s heading.

MW: What was most important to you in terms of laying the foundation to run it back? I know that you have a lot of the core players back again.

OVO Niko: I think that this is a new team, new coaching staff. We’re just trying to figure it out, you know what I mean? With winning last year, we learned a lot. This year, we kind of wanted to go a different direction in terms of coaching style and stuff like that. We won last year and that’s great, but there’s always room for improvement. 

MW: There’s a lot of great basketball initiatives coming to Greater Toronto, between the new Scarborough Shooting Stars arena and the WNBA team.

OVO Niko: Montreal, too. It’s a big basketball community here.

We’re looking forward to the new arena. Any day now, the shovel gets into the dirt. We’ll do shows there, too, you can’t live off of just basketball. I’m sure it’s going to be a multi-purpose arena.

MW: How are you feeling about the news of the WNBA expanding to Toronto?

OVO Niko: It’s great. The more basketball, the better for our city and our country.

MW: What do you think the team name should be? I saw Toronto Tings was suggested online.

OVO Niko: Nah, we can’t call them that! (Laughs)

MW: Any suggestions?

OVO Niko: I never thought it through yet. They’ll probably get there soon.

MW: The Shooting Stars made headlines by having J. Cole on their inaugural season’s roster. Who would be your rapper starting five?

OVO Niko: Drake starting at the two. J. Cole at the three. At the one, I would have to go with Quavo. 2 Chainz at centre, he’s really good as well, and then Chris Brown to round it out.

MW: And Raptors legend Master P as sixth man?

OVO Niko: Of course! ■

Montreal Alliance play Scarborough Shooting Stars tonight, June 23, 7 p.m.

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