It was arguably the most boring NBA Slam Dunk Contest to the general NBA fans. But don’t tell that to the New York Knicks fans who are starving for any shape or form of an on-court success these days.
Amid a disappointing Knicks season, Obi Toppin provided something to celebrate in New York as the high-flying sophomore followed through on his promise to put together dunks that were never seen before in the history of the competition to crown himself as the 2022 NBA Slam Dunk champion.
The most creative dunker, Toppin, was a cut above the rest who chucked more attempts than made in a dunk contest that turned into a meme.
Golden State Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson missed his final dunk paving the way for the anti-climactic easy win for Toppin. The Knicks’ 6-foot-9 sophomore drew 47 points for his final dunk — a between-the-legs slam after tapping the ball off the backboard. It was a dunk that he missed earlier.
“Going back to the last dunk, I knew I was going to pull it out and get it on the first crack because I knew what I was doing wrong,” Toppin said. “I’m glad I made it that time.”
True to his words, Toppin started his memorable night with something new — a behind-the-back slam after leaping over Chuck Millan of Team Flight Brothers.
“We were talking before the dunk contest and were, like, ‘We want to come out here and do things that people have never seen before,'” Toppin said of his strategy with Millan, his dunk coach. “So those dunks, never been done in a dunk contest. I felt good being out there.”
Millan, who also helped Donovan Mitchell win the Slam Dunk crown in 2018, is the founder of the Team Flight Brothers, a traveling troupe of slam dunkers.
Toppin’s two other dunks — between-the-legs, alley-oop reverse slam off the backboard, and between-the-legs windmill — also were impressive. He became the third Knicks player to win the NBA Slam Dunk title after three-time champion Nate Robinson (2006, 2009, 2010) and Kenny “Sky” Walker (1989).
Toppin also ruled the event which the late Kobe Bryant used as his launchpad for stardom 25 years ago in Cleveland.
“It feels amazing,” Toppin said. “There have been a lot of legends that have won the dunk contest, and for my name to be a part of that is something special. I don’t take it for granted.”
The win could also embellish Toppin, whose in-game dunks have been one of the few reasons that rock the Madison Square Garden once in a while to show out more for the remainder of the season.
“I’m going to stick to the regular tomahawks. I might go between the legs one more time. I might do something else, pull something special like go behind my back or something on fastbreak [play],” Toppin said. “I’ll just go out there and have some fun.”
The Knicks haven’t been fun to watch this season. But hopefully, Toppin’s Slam Dunk title could jolt them.
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