The one and only Obadiah Richard Toppin Jr., aka Obi, conceded a little tiny charming interview to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post last weekend and he touched on his past with the Knicks, his future in basketball, and his present in Indiana.
If you remember—and if you don’t, here’s a recap—the New York Knicks traded Toppin to the Pacers last July following the NBA draft and one day before confirming the signing of Donte DiVincenzo in free agency. The Knicks flipped Toppin for two meager second-round picks. Ugh.
A former first-round, 8th-overall draftee by the Knicks in 2020 coming out of Dayton, Toppin had the supremely bad luck of landing in New York on the same season Julius Randle decided to have a breakout year.
After two seasons in which he played 62 and 70 games, Toppin wrapped up his Knicks tenure with a 72-game campaign last year averaging 7.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.0 APG in 15.7 MPG while posting up 44.6/34.4/59.3 shooting splits.
Toppin told Bondy that he “wants to be an All-Star,” and not only that but also “All-Defense one year.” Toppin’s defense (or lack thereof) was perhaps one of the main things going against him in the eyes of Tom Thibodeau, and just another reason to add to the case the coach pitched the FO of the Knicks before they went ahead and greenlighted the trade.
A Brooklyn, New York native, Toppins is now looking forward to what is coming for him and his new team the Indiana Pacers. “We’re in Indiana now, baby. New opportunity. New home. We’re just getting started.”
That said, Toppin acknowledged to be “a hometown kid,” adding that he is “going to miss the city, miss the fans.”
Toppin has appeared in the first two games played by the Pacers so far this season, starting both and logging 19 and 18 minutes respectively. He put up an 11-4-1 line in the season opener against Washington and followed that one with a 4-4 (and a block) outing at Cleveland on Saturday.
Toppin only played 18+ minutes in 46 games while in New York, and just started 15 of the 201 he appeared in through three seasons spent in NYC.
After seemingly struggling in New York under Thibs (“It was definitely super hard”) and enduring heavy pressure while trying to minimize his on-court errors to stay on it, Toppin said, “I feel like it can take my game to another level,” reasoning that under his thinking that “being in the game, being in live games, it’s easier to say you can mess up on something and get better from it than it would be in practice.
“If you don’t play, you don’t get through your mistakes and you don’t learn,” Toppins said.
At the end of the day, Toppin said “[The trade] was nothing personal,” acknowledging “It’s just the business side of things.”
Here’s a (post and) toast to our beloved Dunk Champ, and here’s hoping he can find hoops peace and blossom in Indy!