After three full seasons of being a reliable yet limited resource of energy off of the bench, power forward Obi Toppin was finally dealt to the Pacers on July 1. The 25-year-old was recently in the news due to growing rumors of displeasure behind the scenes with his minor role in the New York Knicks’ rotation. This included reports from several sources that his disgruntled silence boiled over into a verbal altercation with coach Tom Thibodeau.
There’s no stoppin’ New York’s love for Obi Toppin
Regardless of what may have gone down in the locker room between himself and team personnel, Toppin in his departure has had mostly nothing but love shown to him by Knicks fans. In fact, these same fans are excited for him to have a fresh start and an expanded role on a team that can provide that to him.
In the press and in public in general, Toppin was always incredibly professional and clearly loved being a Knick just as much as we loved that he was a Knick. Therefore, it is only right that we celebrate the time he donned the orange and blue. Here are the 10 best moments of Obi Toppin’s tenure in New York.
#10 – November 18, 2020: Toppin is drafted by the Knicks
Obi Toppin was infamously selected No. 8 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft by the Knicks. At the time, it was sort of uncertain how the Knicks would choose to use the pick since the roster was in flux following another disappointing season. Ultimately, Leon Rose choose to take Toppin with his first draft selection as leader of the Knicks front office; a move that was perhaps obvious in hindsight given Obi was afterward said to be a favorite of Rose’s among that draft class.
And while Toppin deserved to have fans in the organization, his becoming a Knick was perhaps just as much about the fact that New York was trying to move Julius Randle at the time and would’ve needed a replacement at the position if they were successful in doing so. We all know the rest of the story; Randle breaks out as an All-NBA forward before the Knicks could find any takers, Toppin is relegated to a role as his backup, and the organization was unable to balance finding Toppin opportunities to develop with Randle’s talent demanding so much playing time.
This moment was the start of some drama for both fans and the players mentioned above, but it was also what allowed for two fantastic regular seasons each resulting in playoff basketball (a rarity in this town). Looking back at this clip, it still brings tears to my eyes seeing the emotions Toppin and his family go through. Not only does this moment remind us that we are sad to see him go, but it also reminds us that Toppin was just as excited when he slammed a dunk or knocked down a three as we the fans were.
On draft night, Toppin immediately displayed a level of passion and joy unmatched by most New York athletes we’ve seen by crying tears of joy and disbelief. Toppin’s path was unlike many and it was in some ways a miracle he got this far, let alone that he wound up playing for the city he grew up in. Even in the present, we can share tears of joy with Obi knowing that he gave his all in his three seasons here.