Obi Toppin still hasn’t earned the big minutes he has been seeking with the Knicks, but the 2020 lottery pick now has represented the team at All-Star Weekend in each of his first two NBA seasons.
Last year in Indianapolis, Toppin fell short in the finals of the Slam Dunk contest to Portland’s Anfernee Simons as a rookie, but the acrobatic forward was slated to vie for the dunk title again Saturday night in Cleveland.
“Man, I got some really good dunks, I got some dunks that have never been done before in the dunk contest, so just gotta wait and see,” Toppin said Saturday morning at RocketMortgage Fieldhouse. “Man, I gotta represent New York well, come out with this [win] and just have fun.”
Due to COVID-19 issues, the dunk competition was switched to halftime of the All-Star Game one year ago, but it returned to the Saturday night showcase this year, alongside the 3-Point Contest and the Skills Competition.
According to various betting sites, Toppin was considered the second favorite behind Rockets rookie Jalen Green in a four-man competition that also featured the Magic’s Cole Anthony and the Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson.
Obi Toppin Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
“Last year, I just getting out there and having an opportunity to be there, it was amazing. Even though it wasn’t a regular year, it was still a blessing to be in the position I was in,” Toppin said. “You just watch what everybody’s done and you just try to go outside the box and just create your own style and your own moves.
“That’s what practice is for. We had enough time to practice dunks and I feel like I got my dunks down pat now. So just going out there to have fun and get these dunks.”
Toppin, the eighth overall pick in the 2020 draft, and the other first- and second-year players on the sinking Knicks were bypassed for the Rising Stars showcase that took place Friday night.
The Brooklyn native is averaging 7.3 points over 15.1 minutes per game for the Knicks this season, up slightly from his numbers (4.1 in 11.0 per appearance) as a rookie. But the 6-foot-9 forward has often electrified the Garden with a series of acrobatic dunks, including a couple he threw down after shuffling the ball between his legs earlier this season.
Toppin’s father, Obadiah, was nicknamed “Dunkers Delight” as a street-ball player from Brooklyn who played at such legendary New York City spots as Dyckman Court, West 4th Street and Rucker Park. He also spent time playing in the defunct USBL. Toppin’s brother, Jacob, presently is a junior forward at Kentucky.
Asked for his favorite Dunk Contest memory, Toppin said it was the 2016 battle between Aaron Gordon and that year’s champion, Zach LaVine, who Saturday night was vying to become the first dunk champion in NBA history to also win the 3-point competition.
LaVine predicted Anthony as Saturday’s winner, saying, “I feel like he’s gotta have something planned.”
The 21-year-old Anthony — the son of former Knicks guard Greg Anthony — said his first memory of the dunk contest was one of the three times that another former Knick, Nate Robinson, took home the trophy (2006, 2009-10) .
“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be in a dunk contest. I remember from a young age watching,” Anthony said. “I’ve watched every one since I was a little kid, and it’s an honor to be able to participate. Nate [winning] is one of the first ones that I vividly remember.”