It wasn’t a role Karl-Anthony Towns would’ve selected for himself, but his heartfelt early morning video drove home a much-needed message.
In the two weeks since the NBA suspended the season 13 players or team staff have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The OKC Thunder were one of ten teams who tested all their players and team personnel who were potentially exposed. All the OKC Thunder tests produced negative results.
Of those 13 who tested positive most were asymptomatic aside from Rudy Gobert noting he lost all sense of taste and smell.
As is typical for the NBA – they led by example. They were the first major sports organization to suspend their season with the NHL, MLB, and MLS all following suit (the NFL is in their offseason but are affected in the draft process). Stars took to social media and were featured in team, league and personal videos all in an adversarial effort to spread the message of safe distancing and staying indoors as much as possible.
The fact there was no one in the public eye who was dealing with the worst symptoms of the virus became part of the dilemma. Explaining to someone that while they felt perfectly healthy the biggest danger was the people that individual could expose and how easily they could spread the virus.
In particular, older people (65+) or individuals with pre-existing health issues who might not have the same capacity to ward off the disease. With no public face to put to the disease, there remained a large contingent who were operating in an “out of sight, out of mind” manner.
If Rudy Gobert was the NBA “patient zero”, Karl-Anthony Towns may very well have become the spokesperson and advocate to ensure the masses (particularly young people) take the coronavirus seriously.
The Wolves star took to social media early Wednesday morning unable to sleep. His video message was posted on his Instagram account and Twitter (as per above) along with an opening message:
Sharing my story in the hopes that everyone stays at home! We need more equipment and we need to help those medical personnel on the front lines. Thank you to the medical staff who are helping my mom. You are all the true heroes! Praying for all of us at this difficult time.
The center told of his personal story and one that drove home the seriousness of COVID-19 punctuating how the disease knows no boundaries. Both Towns’ parents have COVID-19. His father, Karl Sr., is home self quarantining following a short hospital stay. But, his mother, Jacqueline Cruz lies in the hospital on a respirator in a medically induced coma.
Towns’ face bears the stress of the situation he and his family is dealing with. He sent prayers out but more importantly implored everyone to not take the coronavirus lightly begging everyone to follow the advice of medical professionals and practice safe distancing and to stay home.
In an interview on TSN SportsCenter on Wednesday afternoon, ESPN journalist, Malika Andrews spoke of how the Wolves were well ahead of most teams in terms of their knowledge of COVID-19. KAT and his teammates were advised to clean their hotel rooms and given constant updates on how to stay healthy – weeks before the league-mandated suspension.
Towns also donated $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic and that donation occurred over a week before his parents became sick. His hope was the funds would help to develop a vaccine.
Immediately after Towns posted his video, fans and players reached out with messages of support.
While players love to compete and trash talk the one opponent who arguably has the greatest rivalry with Towns is Joel Embiid. But, the 76ers center was one of the first to send support and love to his peer.
Embiid also is actively trying to help, as the big man pledged $500,000 to assist with medical efforts both for patients to survive and protecting those in his community.
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He committed part of those funds to 76ers employees who were set to face 20 percent salary reductions. But, after Embiid jumped to cover the costs the owner (Josh Harris) backtracked stating it was a poor decision that he intended to rectify.
North America is only in the early stage of the pandemic and while the effort to respond seems in hindsight to have been delayed both Canada and America are virtually hibernating in lockdown mode.
Our hearts and prayers go out to Karl-Anthony Towns and his parents AND to each and every one of you and your families. As terrible as KAT’s news is his video may end up being the most important video posted by anyone in sports to this point.
It’s one thing to watch informational messages from players but this video from Towns was something entirely different. It puts a face on the cruelty and danger of this virus. As sad and terrible as Karl-Anthony Towns situation is – his video will have a farreaching effect and might be more valuable than the $100k he donated.
Thunderous Intentions noted some resources we hope will be useful to residents of Oklahoma City. Bookmark the post for easy access to this information.
As always, stay safe and healthy.
For more information on the coronavirus please note the following sites and help line:
Oklahoma State Department Help Center: 877-215-8336
Oklahoma State – dedicated coronavirus site: click this link
The World Health Organization – click this link
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – click this link