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Karl-Anthony Towns still has the last slice of cake his mom made him in 2019


Despite their overwhelming entertainment value, the past two NBA seasons were unfortunately marred by the Covid-19 pandemic that managed to grind the world to a halt in March 2020. During this time, we crowned two new NBA champions, with both titles raising more questions than answers: "What if we weren't in a bubble? What if these players weren't recovering from COVID?" These were some of the questions that fans and media posed in the wake of the most recent titles of the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks.

This season promised to be different or at least hoped to be. Training camp kicked off in September, the season in the middle of October, with all the significant NBA events throughout the year set to happen precisely when they would happen pre-pandemic. Vaccine mandates made it easier to put fans back in the stands while still observing state health and safety regulations to keep both the building and the fans in it alive and well. The league is desperately trying to move on from the effects of the pandemic, but in its third season since the unfortunate event, teams are still grappling with the reality it presents.

NBA superstars such as Joel Embiid and now LeBron James will have missed significant time due to the league's strict Health and Safety protocols. Kyrie Irving's vaccination choice barred him from joining any of the Brooklyn Nets' team activities, and several players will continue to miss time due to their position on Covid-19 vaccines.

The league is keen to move on, but it seems as if living with these restrictions and added safety measures are here to stay. Most of us want to forget COVID ever happened, but one NBA player is still feeling the hurt that the Covid-19 pandemic caused him. That player is none other than Minnesota Timberwolves star big man Karl-Anthony Towns.

To say that 2020 was a challenging year for Towns is a grossly negligent understatement. At the age of 25, Towns lost several family members to the Covid-19 virus, and among those family members was his mom. Not only did his family battle the virus, but Towns was injured for most of the first half of last season, depriving him of the only outlet Karl knew how to activate whenever things would get too harsh out there. This year has been kinder to Towns as he continues to move on from the tragic loss he suffered last year, but Karl is a long way from that happy place and continues to hold on dearly to the memories of his late family. Towns said he keeps a big slice of cake that his mother sent him in 2019 as a souvenir to celebrate his mother's life and recall her generosity towards him.

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"I know it's not good to eat, but it's a memento as one of the last things she gave me."

Karl-Anthony Towns, The Undefeated

The league had always murmured about how soft Towns and the rest of the young crew in Minnesota were, especially when Jimmy Butler was with the Wolves, challenging them to be better. However, those guys were young players on a bad team without any veteran leadership, so to expect them to be hardened and battle-tested right away is a little too much. The fact that the Wolves are on a winning streak now and Towns is producing at a high rate while enjoying the game he loves shows one thing, those accusations of him being soft are either no longer true or held no weight from the very beginning. To be able to bounce back and perform at a high level after losing several family members to Covid, knowing that other players could also infect him, is remarkable if you ask me.

So to all those who like to throw shade at the championships won during the bubble, or at players like Paul George who struggled with their mental health during the pandemic, just stop. Unless you have been in a bubble format yourself, there is simply no way for you to judge how the players of the NBA responded to the circumstance brought by the pandemic.

After all, I don't recall anyone from Google being asked to come live on Campus for two or three months without their friends or family. The mere fact that the league is still dealing with physical and mental health issues brought about by the pandemic should provide some clarity as to how difficult it has been to play NBA basketball over the past two seasons.

Karl-Anthony Towns stores a big slice of a birthday cake his mom gave him back in November 2019. This was when the pandemic started to alarm people in Wuhan, China, and just yesterday, LeBron James entered health and safety protocols for testing positive on two types of Covid-19 tests. The virus did not spare anyone, it took something or someone from all of us and, unfortunately, continues to do so.

It's time to pump the breaks on all the asterisks on the achievements of players and teams during the past two seasons because what Towns' experience teaches us is that the fact that we are all still here is an achievement on its own. It's time to bring respect back into the NBA and appreciate what players are doing instead of finding ways to discredit them because just like in 2020, this game could be taken away from us any second.


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