Obi Toppin’s first dunk contest was in his senior year at Ossining High, facing three other high school seniors from Section 1 (Westchester schools).
“He took off from inside the free throw line and flew like MJ to win the contest,” Ossining coach Michael Casey told The Post. “Most of the others struggled to complete their dunks. But no, I didn’t think Obi would be in the NBA dunk contest after that. ”
It’s going to be an especially proud moment for the Toppin family when the Knicks lottery rookie pick, a late player who wasn’t even a full-time starter in his third year at Ossining, competes in Sunday’s Slam-Dunk Contest. . The event will take place at halftime of the All-Star Game in Atlanta.
Toppin’s number one basketball idol as a child was not Michael Jordan, but his father, Obadiah, a streetball legend whose nickname was “Dunkers Delight.”
Obadiah participated in the old And1 Streetball tour and was once part of a Gatorade commercial in 2006 with Vince Carter, Dwyane Wade and Ben Wallace.
“I talked to him about some of the dunks,” Toppin said. “He’s basically telling me which ones will look crazy by then.”
Toppin said his father, who also played abroad, is his number one inspiration in the dunk department.
“I grew up watching it,” Toppin said. “On all the teams he played for, he was called Dunkers Delight, so that speaks for itself.”
Contacted by The Post, Obadiah said he planned to be in Atlanta.
“I am very excited and anxious,” Obadiah told The Post. “I know he’s going to do what he does.”
Some dunk contest experts believe that one of Toppin’s dunks on Sunday will be a variation of a quick shot between the legs he performed in Dayton last season. Toppin said after the game that it was a dunk his father perfected on the courts at Rucker and Dyckman parks.
Toppin, who turned 23 earlier this week, will be in Atlanta with one of his Knicks teammates, All-Star Julius Randle. In the pandemic format, players were told to arrive on Saturday night, so there wouldn’t be much practice time for Toppin to use Randle for support.
Toppin likes prop dunks that include jumping obstacles, and he touched on Aaron Gordon’s artistic performance last season when he jumped over 7-foot-5-inch Tacko Fall.
When asked if 6-9 Randle, his power forward mentor, will provide an assist during the halftime contest, Toppin did not rule it out.
“I don’t know how to answer, I may go to Julius, I may not,” Toppin said.
Toppin will go against former Duke point guard Cassius Stanley, a second-round pick who has been playing in the G-League for the Pacers, and Portland point guard Anfernee Simons. They will donate their $ 100,000 earnings to historically black colleges. Toppin is killing for York College.
“It’s definitely crazy to me, and it’s crazy because I was texting Cassius the other day,” Toppin said. “We were both saying how surreal it is. We are in our first year in the NBA and we can compete in this dunk contest. So having this opportunity is a blessing. ”
Casey, Toppin’s high school coach, said his former player may not be the favorite as a great man against guards who are generally more visually appealing flying through the air.
“You will have to be creative,” Casey said.
Toppin is the sixth Knicks player to compete in the dunk contest; the last to win it was 5-foot-9 guard Nate Robinson, who won it three times. Kenny “Sky” Walker won as Knick in 1989.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of dunks these last few days,” Toppin said. “I’m going to try to do things that haven’t been in the dunk contest yet. I’ve seen a lot of great dunks. You may have to break one of the old dunks someone made. I’m definitely preparing for the time to come. ”
The only dunk player Toppin is glad not to face on Sunday is Bulls guard Zach LaVine, who is making his first All-Star appearance. Toppin feared that LaVine, the 2016 winner, would be signed since he would be in Atlanta anyway.
“I’m glad Zach isn’t there,” Toppin said. “I’m going to put that in there. I’m glad he’s not there because he’s a great killer. I definitely love to compete. Even if he was in it, I would have had a great time and we would have put on a show for everyone. There are three amazing dunks, Cassius and me and Anfernee. So the three of us, I feel like we’re going to put on a show for everyone. ”