#9 – December 25, 2021: Toppin throws down on Christmas Day
Obi Toppin always has been known for his high-flying dunking abilities. We will be seeing plenty more of this skill going forward in the countdown, but this is the only part of the list dedicated to a single dunk.
Back on Christmas Day in 2021, the Knicks faced off against the Atlanta Hawks, who had recently become their newest nemesis after an intense 2021 NBA PLayoff series that New York had lost. This was their second matchup with the Hawks following that series. Earlier in the 2021-22 season, New York went into Atlanta and completed phase one of their revenge by defeating them, 99-90.
It was then on Christmas a month later that New York would really lay into the Hawks by throttling them on national television at Madison Square Garden, 101-87. This took place during a massively disappointing 2021-22 season in which the Knicks missed the playoffs, but at the time this felt like a statement win that could turn the team in the direction of getting back to the postseason.
For the game, Toppin scored 13 points in just 14 minutes as New York’s fourth-leading scorer. He shot 5-of-8 from the field and 1-of-2 from three while knabbing four boards. But, the cherry on top came at the tail-end of the contest.
With just over a minute left in the game and the Knicks up 17, Matt Mooney (yeah remember him?) picked a pocket and RJ Barrett came up with the loose ball. Getting out on the fast break, Barrett bounced the ball ahead to Toppin. After just one dribble, the future Dunk Contest Champion (*foreshadowing*) went up for a majestic between-the-legs slam.
Toppin’s jingle bell rocking of the rim prompted announcer Ryan Ruocco to exclaim, “A Christmas Day gift!” Indeed, the game and the slam itself were quite the gift for Knicks fans, and it is the gift that will keep on giving us fond memories of Toppin’s time with the team.