Steve Novak saw first-hand how the Madison Square Garden was rocking and buzzing in those years where the Knicks last tasted a playoff appearance.
Novak, who played for the Knicks from 2011-13, hopes that the arrival of hometown kid Obi Toppin could rekindle that fire back in New York.
“I think it was a great pick. Obi Toppin is a sure thing – Naismith Player of the Year. He’s gotten better from his junior year of high school until now. So we’ve seen him develop,” Novak said on MSG Network’s new morning show MSG A.M.
“You know that you are getting a guy who went 29-2 at Dayton his last year. He is a winner.”
Toppin fell on the Knicks’ lap at No. 8 after frantically trying to trade up, fearing that he’ll be gone by then. But a shakeup in the draft handed them the best player in college basketball last season and whom scouts project to be the most NBA-ready rookie.
Toppin’s remarkable rise from the playgrounds — Dyckman and Rucker Park — of New York to become a lottery pick has given so much hope for the moribund franchise.
And Toppin’s hops and bounce have reminded Novak and most scouts of the player who once rocked New York.
“He is a guy that has compared himself to Amar’e Stoudemire. He’s born in Brooklyn. You saw the emotion and the excitement to be with a franchise like the New York Knicks. There are some guys you can tell they didn’t want to be in certain places. They’re not as happy to be drafted somewhere. But Obi Toppin is going to live every moment and breathe every breath in order to play his best basketball at Madison Square Garden. You can already tell that,” Novak added.
Toppin didn’t shy away from the spotlight. After he got drafted, he declared he’ll help to bring the Knicks back to basketball relevance.
“New York has been down a couple of years, and I feel like with the guys they have now, and myself added to that, we’re going to win a lot of games, and we’re going to put New York back on the map, for sure,” said Toppin after being selected eighth overall in last week’s NBA Draft.
The work is cut out for Toppin and the rest of the Knicks this season under new head coach Tom Thibodeau.
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