"Rewalks" and virtual reality are set to define the future of professional basketball, according to New York Knicks star Obi Toppin.
The third-year metropolitan was one of several young basketball stars gathered by Dwyane Wade to discuss the future of the game, part of a Bleacher Report-produced web series entitled "Next 25". He was joined by the retired 13-time All-Star Wade, as well Toppin's on-court contemporaries Scottie Barnes (Toronto), Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana), and Napheesa Collier (the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx).
Toppin offered a profound answer to Wade's query about criticism from the media, particularly the comments that come from former players-turned-analysts (like Wade, who has been a part of Turner Sports' basketball coverage since his retirement in 2019). While he was open to taking advice from former players, he mostly concerns himself with the comments and advice from current on-court representatives...namely his teammates.
"That's what we look for, for (criticism) and other players to talk to us and tell us what we need to work on to get better," Toppin began. "But I feel like your team is all you got. Everybody there, they're there because they're trying to win. "I feel like that's all you got to worry about. You don't need to worry about all the extra stuff that's going on on social media, like what people are trying to say."
"The only people working and fighting and seeing each other every day are the people on your team. So that's how I take it."
In a later episode, the group divulged their takes on the rising role of fashion in the NBA, an expanding world partly showcased through former player Nick Young, who speaks about his own line in one-on-one interviews interspersed throughout the panel's talk. Toppin isn't the first to raise his hand when Wade asks if anyone's into fashion, but revealed that he's no stranger to making a pregame statement.
Photos of player entrances/exits to and from the locker have gained more clicks and engagements in the social media era and Toppin. The Knicks star confirmed that he's more than happy to make a re-entry if he doesn't like the original showing.
"You've never rewalked?" a smiling Toppin asks Barnes, who appears amused by such a concept with Wade. "I'm back and forth. I need the right steps." Toppin does admit, however, that rewalks can only be done at home games, concurring with Haliburton. "This is not out of the way. You're going to look crazy if you do that."
Other topics discussed include the proliferation of NFTs in the future game as well as the further implementation of virtual reality to fans' game day experiences. Toppin appears enthusiastic about the latter concept, contrasting with Collier's concerns that the unique experience of attending a professional basketball game in person.
Toppin, a first-round pick from Dayton in 2020, is set to enter his third year with the Knicks. He has averaged 6.7 points and 3.0 rebounds over his first couple of seasons in New York, a tenure that also includes the top honors at the most recent Slam Dunk Contest.