To be completely honest, I don’t know what to say. This is awful. The death of Karl-Anthony Towns‘ mother, Jacqueline, due to complications from COVID-19, is just awful.
I can’t relate, and you probably can’t either. Even for the unfortunate who have had to permanently say goodbye to a parent, relatively few have had to due so in these bizarre times, and to such an isolating disease. It must be paralyzing.
Death is death, and certainly not quantifiable in the pain it causes. But Karl is dealing with something uniquely painful. The path forward for the 24-year-old is going to be one hell of a trip.
Because I don’t have the words, here is a compilation of the thoughts of those who know Towns better than I do: his teammates over the years. Towns often points out how much time playing in the NBA requires a player to spend with their teammates. The constant contact, Towns felt made his teammates a second family.
The 24-year-old Towns is the longest-tenured Minnesota Timberwolf on the current roster, with three more years of experience than the second-most tenured player, Josh Okogie. In his five years and 358 career games, Towns has shared the floor with 56 teammates. To those players, the kid from Piscataway, N.J. was not only a leader of those groups, but he was also a friend.
Many of those friends flooded Twitter and Instagram Monday afternoon to show their support for the Towns family. Here’s what some of them had to say…
Tyus Jones: Minnesota Timberwolves — 2015-19
Towns and Jones entered the league together. One for a story, the late Flip Saunders loved the idea of pairing the hometown kid with the heir to KG’s throne, so he drafted Towns first overall and traded back into the first round for Jones.
KAT often credited Tyus with familiarizing him with Minnesota. He convinced Towns this snowy tundra wasn’t all that bad.
In the four seasons Jones and Towns shared the floor together, Tyus dropped 213 assists to his buddy KAT. Here’s one of Jones’s final dimes he threw to Towns before signing with Memphis this past offseason.
Zach LaVine: Minnesota Timberwolves — 2014-17
LaVine — never one to mince words, as you can see in his tweet — was also a major part of Flip’s vision. Alongside Towns and Andrew Wiggins, LaVine helped inspire the notion that the dark days of the old Wolves might finally be coming to a close.
A peak moment for the Towns and LaVine pairing came at All-Star Weekend 2016 — when Towns won the Skills Challenge and LaVine won the Dunk Contest. Flip was definitely looking down and beaming at this moment when LaVine and the Bulls came to town last season.
Gorgui Dieng: Minnesota Timberwolves — 2013-20
Dieng handled the Timberwolves’ drafting of another center and Towns’ ascension to superstar status with grace. Dieng is as prideful as they come, but was always selfless enough to acknowledge that KAT was blessed with the gift of supreme talent. In return, Towns always revered Dieng. He was so happy when Dieng would step up and have a big game.
Dieng also challenged Towns; he believed in the notion that with great talent comes great responsibility. Dieng is one of Towns’ only teammates to publicly remark that Towns will not become truly elite without a further commitment to the defensive end.
As the game became progressively more modern over the years, and thus smaller and smaller, Dieng and Towns began sharing the floor less and less. The peak of the duos’ pairing came in 2016-17 when they started next to each other for all 82 games. The Rubio-LaVine-Wiggins-Towns-Dieng fivesome will be one that I will always remember fondly.
Shabazz Muhammad: Minnesota Timberwolves — 2013-18
Like Dieng, Muhammad was there at the beginning. Towns started all 82 games of his rookie season, and Muhammad was out there with him for all 82. In the three years Towns and Muhammad were teammates, they shared the floor for 1645 minutes.
Towns, a hook shot junkie in his own right, was all about feeding Muhammad on the block for Bazz’s patented lefty hook.
Jamal Crawford: Minnesota Timberwolves — 2017-18
Sixteen years Towns’ senior, Crawford was clearly one of Towns’ all-time favorite vets. The two made the 2017-18 playoffs together, and will always share a bond from that experience.
In that Wolves locker room, there was a split down the middle between the younger and older players. Crawford was the bridge between the two groups. In Towns’ frustration, he was always appreciative of the role Crawford played there.
Robert Covington: Minnesota Timberwolves — 2018-20
Of the 56 teammates Towns has had, Covington was his closest friend of the bunch. The familial bond took on another level between those two.
In my purview, the relationship was more akin to a little-brother-to-big-brother dynamic. Five years older than Towns, RoCo could apply pressure to Towns in ways that no one else ever could.
In the KAT Basketball Family Tree, KG is the grandpa, Flip is the wise uncle and RoCo is the brother.
Rest in Peace, Jackie