Earlier this week, Karl-Anthony Towns had a press conference with Chris Finch and Tim Connelly to address some of their goals for next season. Most of what was said was fairly typical offseason talk. They’re excited for the next season and ready to put in the work to be great. However, there was one quote that grabbed by far the most headlines.
“All the guys have already spoke to each other,” he said. “We all are extremely excited to play with each other. But we also have the same goal in mind. We all know it’s championship or bust, and we’re gonna go out there and try to get it.”
Towns’ quote inspired a few amusing responses internally from Chris Finch and Tim Connelly, who both casually backed away from making the same bold statement as KAT. When first asked to react to KAT’s “championship or bust” statement, Finch said, “Oh, is it?” then laughed and said, “I guess, so that’s what we’re in it for, right?”
Finch later addressed the same statement by saying, “you gotta crawl, walk, run in this stuff. We gotta make sure that we don’t skip steps here. We don’t look at it as a championship or bust; we just wanna keep building.”
Connelly was similarly unwilling to get aggregated in the statement that KAT made. When asked if he agreed, Connelly responded, “Listen, I’m not a zero-sum guy, so no.”
He then echoed Finch’s mentality of not running before you walk, saying, “Our goal is to, you know, be at the table. Our goal is to be a homecourt playoff team.” Connelly finished his sentiment by saying, “I think once it gets there, you kinda throw the dice and see what happens. But I’m not an all-or-nothing guy. It’s a tough way to live life.”
Draymond Green responded to a Twitter graphic with Towns’ quote on it with several laughing-while-crying emojis. Most of us know Draymond as one of the most active antagonists in the league. Thus, take any comment he makes with a few grains of salt. However, I question why he felt this was a good time to punch down at a franchise that is finally on the rise and will likely be one of their biggest competitors next season. Draymond continued the cliché pattern of making fun of woebegone franchises every time they celebrate an achievement or set their goals high. However, he doesn’t realize that this time he’s not just poking a bear but a hungry pack of wolves.
All metaphors aside, this Timberwolves roster and front office are nothing like what we have seen in the past, and it seems people around the league are still catching up to that idea. Next year the Wolves starting lineup will have four All-Star caliber players in Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, Rudy Gobert, and, of course, Big KAT. Let’s also not forget that Karl has made an All-NBA team twice, while Gobert has made 4 All-NBA teams, 6 All-Defense teams, won 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards, and has received over 10 MVP votes in two separate years. The team is stacked with talent. Several players are primed to excel as either the fifth starter or on the bench, including Jaden McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, Taurean Prince, and Jaylen Nowell.
When you have that much talent on your team, why shouldn’t your goal be to compete for a championship? As Finch said, that’s what we’re all here for, and that applies to both players and fans. We should want Minnesota’s best players to set their goals as high as possible and strive to win championships. That’s what every fan wants to see their team do.
As Towns astutely stated, “The city is yearning, the people are yearning, the fans are yearning, and it’s only right to give the kids here who felt that they never had a chance to see championship basketball; let’s make a run to give it to them.” As one of those kids who is now in their late 20s, I appreciate that KAT feels this yearning and isn’t shy about expressing his goal of giving our city (and state) the championship it’s wanted since the franchise’s inception in 1989.
Obfuscated among the aggregation of KAT’s bold championship goals was that he continued to reaffirm his desire and commitment to playing his entire career in Minnesota. At the end of his interview, KAT was asked, “Is this about as likely as it’s ever felt that you could spend your whole career here, and maybe the best you’ve felt about that possibility?” Karl responded by saying, “Yeah, for sure. I was confident, and my dream was always to try to retire here and live every single day of my NBA career as a Wolf.”
While Towns has maintained this position throughout his entire career, we shouldn’t take for granted how much his commitment means to a mid-market franchise like the Timberwolves. There were many rough seasons early in Karl’s career in which classic Wolves front office dysfunction derailed any chance of him playing meaningful playoff basketball. He could have justifiably demanded a trade after his first max extension like many other stars do. Instead, he chose to weather the storm, even though there was hardly a process worth putting trust in before the past few years.
That decision finally seems to be paying off for him, and for that, I’m thankful. Whether or not you believe the Wolves are championship contenders this year, they now have an incredible starting five, playoff-tested bench depth, and stable leadership in both the front office and coaching staff. Having stable leadership who can surround your best players with complimentary teammates and talent is essential for keeping everyone happy. Kevin Garnett also wanted to spend his entire career in Minnesota. However, the ownership and front office at the time were mainly too incompetent to build a true championship roster around him despite his legendary capabilities and eventually traded him.
Now, though, for possibly the first time in franchise history, Timberwolves fans don’t have to worry about suffering another heartbreaking separation with an incredible player for the foreseeable future. That wonderful, stress-free feeling we can finally lay claim to having is all a result of KAT’s patience and loyalty to the team. Now he finally has a leadership group willing to do everything it takes to help him and the rest of the Wolves compete for championships in the years to come.