The strain of having multiple family members die from COVID-19 and then losing 50 pounds after he contracted the virus led Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns to experience a panic attack during a game, he tells Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated.
It happened in February in Cleveland after he was cleared to rejoin the team. Towns describes the feeling of being overwhelmed by anxiety while on the bench and texting a message to his agent that read, “I can’t be out here anymore. I can’t do this.” Towns went to the locker room where he was sweating and feeling tightness in his chest. He thought about going to the hotel or even back to Minnesota, but decided to stay in the arena until the game was over.
The heartache from losing loved ones, particularly his mother, had become too much for Towns to bear in a public setting. His father encouraged him to take time away from the game for his mental health, but Towns opted to continue playing because he didn’t want to disappoint anyone, though he was often unhappy with the results.
“I just really didn’t think I could play the game of basketball the way I want to represent myself in the NBA,” Towns said. “I didn’t want to represent myself in a bad way. There’d be a lot of times we’d play a game. Game’s over. And I’m not even in there. I’m doing my own thing. I’m in the bathroom looking at myself, wondering if this is the man that I really think I am.”
He eventually found some degree of solace through regular conversations with head coach Chris Finch, and benefited by getting away from the game during the offseason. Towns is now ready to return to basketball and hopes to establish himself as one of the league’s best centers.
There’s more from Minnesota:
- Although Towns is frustrated by years of losing, that hasn’t shaken his commitment to the Wolves, Pina adds in the same story. A source close to Towns tells Pina that the surprising dismissal of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas last week didn’t affect Towns’ desire for a contract extension. He can become eligible for a supermax deal by making an All-NBA team this season. “My chips are all on the table,” Towns said. “So it’s up to the Wolves, you know? If they give me the chance to stay there I fa’ sho would take it. The ball is in their court.”
- Meeting today with the media, new co-owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore repeated their pledge to keep the team in Minnesota, according to Chris Hine and Chris Miller of The Star Tribune. “We have no plans to move,” Rodriguez said. “Our plan is to be right here.”
- New president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta said the team is fully vaccinated except for two players who are in the process of getting their shots, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.