The Slam Dunk Champ Crown will be defended after all. Kind of.
Obi Toppin repped the Knicks and ended up winning the 2022 Slam Dunk Contest a year ago, reigning supreme over the field of competitors present at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland OH. Toppin won’t be defending the title, though.
This February, against all odds, it will be Jericho Sims defending the title in the name of Obadiah Richard Toppin Jr. while donning Knicks threads in Salt Lake City, UT.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic ($), the New York Knicks big man will replace Portland Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe in the 2023 Slam Dunk Contest. The event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Vivint Arena in SLC as part of the All-Star Weekend festivities.
Sharpe has decided to drop out of the event “in order to focus on the second of the Trail Blazers’ season,” according to sources quoted by Charania in his original post.
That might make sense when comparing where Sharpe and Sims sit in their respective teams and seasons to date. There is a sizable gap between Sharpe’s contributions and role in Portland (nearly 20 MPG in 53 games as a rookie contributing 7.5 PPG and 2.4 RPG) and Sims’ in NYC (15 MPG in 42 games at 3.7 PPG and 4.6 RPG).
Had it not been for Mitchell Robinson suffering an injury a few weeks ago, Sims would have most probably been left out of coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation for the better part of the last month of play. Before Robinson went down, Sims had racked up five consecutive DNPs topping 18 minutes in just one game before that and since the start of the season.
This news means New York will be sending at least three players to Salt Lake City in a couple of weeks: Sims will participate in Saturday night’s contests, second-year guard Quentin Grimes will play in the Rising Stars game, and Julius Randle will come off the bench in the All-Star game after getting named a reserve a few days ago.
With Kevin Durant officially missing the star-laden weekend, there is one more open spot up for grabs now that might end up getting filled by New York Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson.
Up to the NBA to make the right call... or snub this humble man once more.