The New York Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. From the outside looking in, it was the most cathartic night in New York City... maybe ever. Has any fanbase ever had a more emotional reaction to earning a split at home as a higher seed? There have been championship celebrations more subdued than the scene outside Madison Square Garden after the game.
If Trae Young saw the worst of New York, Obi Toppin got the best. The 8th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft only played 12 minutes, which is one more than he averaged in the regular season. He only scored 8 points (he averaged 4.1) and had 3 rebounds (2.2 in the regular season), but the timing of each of them earned him a standing ovation and a stadium-wide name remembereance.
Topping entered the game at the start of the fourth quarter and immediately sent the Garden into hysterics as he blocked Kevin Huerter and then threw down an alley-oop on on the other end. For that moment, he was worth the lottery pick. Fans chanted his name. It brought his mother to tears.
Who knows what happens to the Knicks the rest of this series or where Toppin's career goes from here, but he and his family will always have this moment, which was pretty cool, even to an impartial observer. For a local kid who cried tears of joy when the Knicks picked him, it must have been unbelievable.