CLEVELAND — Obi Toppin was the top dunker on Saturday at NBA All-Star Weekend.
The New York Knicks forward went through the legs, tapped the ball off the backboard and finished with a one-handed slam to score a 47 on his final dunk and win the NBA slam dunk contest.
« 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 conversation with Chuck Millan of Team Flight Brothers, a dunk coach he worked with to prepare for the night. « So those dunks, never been done in a dunk contest. I felt good being out there. »
He beat the Golden State Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson in an underwhelming final with Toscano-Anderson — while wearing the uniform of past Warriors dunk champion Jason Richardson — unable to convert his final dunk attempt after three tries.
« I think I got a little too overzealous just because the first one didn’t go my way, » he said.
Toppin, as a rookie, lost in the finals of last year’s dunk contest to Anfernee Simons of the Portland Trail Blazers.
« I knew I had to come back for my revenge from last year, and I had fun doing it, » Toppin said. « And we had a lot of great dunkers here today. I’m glad I came out with the W. »
In the first round, Toppin scored a 44 on his first dunk by leaping over Millan while wrapping the ball behind his back before slamming it home. Toscano-Anderson — while wearing a black Warriors uniform with his last name and number printed in white, green and red as a nod to his Mexican heritage — jumped over his Warriors teammate, Andrew Wiggins, while finishing a windmill dunk.
Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony, who wore his father Greg Anthony’s No. 50 Knicks uniform and accessorized with a pair of Timberlands to complete the New York look, was out after the first round.
« When Cole missed those two first [attempts] with the Timbs on, I was, like, ‘Nah, them Timbs, them heavy, so we got to boost his energy up,' » said Toppin, who cheered on his competition. « I was trying to get everybody on their feet for him doing that. »
Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green was also out after the first round. He couldn’t seize the moment after taking the court wearing a cellphone hanging from a diamond encrusted chain around his neck showing his past dunk highlights when he and teammate Kevin Porter Jr. struggled timing an alley-oop pass off the side of the backboard.
Toppin became the third player in Knicks history to win the contest, following Nate Robinson (2006, ’09, ’10) and Kenny « Sky » Walker (1989). Toppin also won the competition in Cleveland 25 years after a rookie Kobe Bryant won the slam dunk contest in Cleveland, a fact that was not lost on him.
« It feels amazing, » he 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. »