Karl-Anthony Towns was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic perhaps harder than anyone else in the NBA.
The Minnesota Timberwolves star lost his mother and six other family members to the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and had a tough battle with it himself.
As Kyrie Irving’s saga with the vaccine continues — the Brooklyn Nets star spoke out on Instagram Live on Wednesday night for the first time about his decision to remain unvaccinated and away from the team — Towns said Wednesday that he isn’t against Irving or others remaining unvaccinated.
That, though, doesn’t mean he’s against the vaccine.
“I’m obviously a strong believer in the vaccine,” Towns said, via NJ.com. “I’ve been through so much and it would be kind of contradictory to not be on the pro-vaccine side. But what I will say is that I believe in choice and I like to give people their choice and I have no problem with people having their choice.”
Towns family hit hard by COVID
Seven members of the Towns family died due to the coronavirus in 2020. Towns’ mother Jacqueline, a nurse, was among them.
Towns said in January that he had tested positive for the virus, too. He also revealed on social media that he was hit by a drunk driver in Los Angeles and briefly hospitalized, which only added to his tough year.
Towns, 25, averaged 24.8 points and 10.6 rebounds in 50 games for the Timberwolves last season, his sixth in the league. Yet last season, especially at the beginning, wasn’t that important to him.
“If I can be honest with y’all for a second, I mean, I don’t really recall or really care,” he said after their season opener in December about his mom’s death. “I only understand what happened from April 13 on.
“Because you may see me smiling and stuff, but that Karl died on April 13. He’s never coming back, I don’t remember that man. You’re talking to the physical me, but my soul has been killed off a long time ago.”
Towns: ‘Don’t give me a bulls*** excuse’
Now back to Irving, who is in the middle of a standoff over his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Irving currently can’t play at home games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Nets due to a New York City vaccine mandate. Nets manager Sean Marks said this week that Irving won’t be able to play in any games for the team until he is vaccinated, as he doesn’t want “any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.”
Irving, an avid conspiracy theorist, has reportedly been liking and sharing Instagram posts within NBA circles that are pushing wild theories trying to link the vaccine to secret societies and Satan, too.
He addressed the situation for the first time in a lengthy Instagram Live session on Wednesday, and said that he believes he is standing up for those who have lost their jobs after refusing to get the vaccine — something that has been administered millions of times around the globe, is widely considered extremely safe and can end the pandemic.
As of Thursday afternoon, about 57% of Americans were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to The New York Times, and there have been more than 404 million shots given throughout the country.
So while Towns is fine with Irving and others making choices for themselves, he isn’t here for any excuses whatsoever.
“They make their own decisions on their own bodies and their own families. I have no ill will towards that,” Towns said, via NJ.com. “The only thing I would say is just don’t give me a bulls**t excuse why [you don’t get the vaccine] … You don’t want to do it, that’s your choice.”