Karl-Anthony Towns ended up on the COVID Health and Safety Protocols list two days before Christmas. The Minnesota Timberwolves were in the midst of having ripped off four of five before their superstar center was forced out. But the big man found a new voice during his quarantine.
KAT has started streaming on Twitch and YouTube on a fairly regular basis. He watches videos with viewers, breaks down others and talks plenty of basketball. If personal rivalries are your cup of tea, Towns has jumped into those topics as well, including his years-long “beef” with Jimmy Butler. KAT surprised many of his viewers on a recent stream by thanking Butler.
“Thank you Jimmy, appreciate you,” Towns said. “No matter that we didn’t see eye-to-eye, alright fuck it, we didn’t see eye-to-eye. We don’t have to. But guess what? We got the job done on the court. We gave the Wolves a chance to be in the playoffs. We did that. Thankful.”
It’s a new side of KAT and, for many fans, a breath of fresh air. Towns has had a rough go the last couple of years regarding COVID. It’s well-documented that he lost his mother and other loved ones to the virus. At one point, basketball seemed like the farthest thing from his mind, and rightfully so. Looking at where he’s at now, it’s evident that Towns is in a different headspace. He’s found an outlet in online streaming, and he hasn’t been afraid to bring some relentless takes either.
In a recent stream a week ago, KAT was asked about Russell Westbrook. While he was complimentary about the Los Angeles Lakers’ star point guard, one clip of what he said went viral.
“Stats don’t mean nothing. I’m from a place where if you get stats and you lose, that shit is pointless. I don’t go home and get love for the stats.”
When asked what he thought of Westbrook right after that, KAT said:
“He definitely gets stats. He chases stats.”
Now, in the world of streaming, that’s the clip that everyone will run with. Towns ended up being very complimentary about Westbrook, his play, and what he does well. But that audio might as well have been burned. KAT had already stated the money clip that was going to go viral.
“He’s a helluva player,” Towns said “I don’t think people realize, he won the MVP, bro, he was getting like 30-10-10 a night. You know how crazy that is? Even this year, he’s damn near getting a triple-double a night. …. [We’ve] talked about Oscar Robertson for how many decades? This man came in and does it every year, on average.”
Nobody brought up that statement. Towns learned a lesson that perhaps he already knew: The clip with the most zest is the one everyone will gobble up and regurgitate. The initial quote got the attention of one Draymond Green, who put Towns on blast.
“I once watched from the bench due to us beating the [Timberwolves’] ass and he was in the game down 20 with [two minutes] to go,” Green replied. “Come on man. Stop talking to people about the ‘bros’ and yelling this is a ‘brotherhood.'”
“I didn’t know I was the coach. I was the coach? I was told to be in the game with two minutes left down by 20 and I’m the coach? Am I the coach?” Towns said. “I’m the coach? Oh shit, I’m Bill Russell. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Bill Russell. I forgot I was Bill Russell, too.
“But hey listen, hell of a team. I ain’t here to do none of all that disrespectful shit and all that stuff. Nah, I ain’t here to do all that. … Listen, you won by 20. Your team is a hell of a team, all-time team. I know what it is.”
If you’re a Timberwolves fan, how do you not love this? Towns isn’t backing down; he’s not caving in. For years, the Wolves have been the doormat for every team to walk all over and laugh at. Opinions can be had about KAT streaming. The older crowd may roll their eyes or scoff at it. But him barking back at the likes of Draymond Green should be applauded. At a minimum, this franchise is trying to change the perception they’ve had league-wide for decades now. Ultimately, it will be determined with wins and losses. But having someone like Towns not afraid to speak his truth when one of the better trash talkers in the league takes a shot at him is tremendous.
KAT won’t ever be as vocal as Kevin Garnett. He’ll never quite have that edge, but he may not need to. He’s found his voice in a significant way during his quarantine by speaking out on Twitch and YouTube. What a time to be alive.