Shortly after having their dreams made by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA’s newest draftees were whisked backstage to begin their first of many media rounds.
The draftee in highest demand on the night was number 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, who is as impressive off the court and he is on it. With his positive, engaging attitude mixed with elite talent and a seemingly game, the young man certainly looks set for superstardom.
I was fortunate enough to chat to Towns shortly after he was drafted, along with other media members at the NBA’s Cisco Telepresence event. Here’s what he had to share.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a lot of very talented players. How can you turn your talent into victories?
I think the biggest thing I’m going to bring the Minnesota Timberwolves is versatility. So I’m just going to go out there and play a versatile game and allow Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine (who won the Slam Dunk contest), really to be the best things that they are — which is to be a slasher. Open up the floor, allow them to operate easily and smoothly, make the game easier for everybody were they can all benefit and I can also help the team as much as possible.
As a talented young inside player, how much can you learn from Kevin Garnett?
You can learn a lot you’re talking to a legend. I can be as talented as I want but like you said I’m young. I’m a very young player, I’m a rookie, being able to be with a person who’s already about 20 years older than me. That’s 20 years more experience than I have and [Garnett] has a championship ring to go with it. I’d take him any day of the week [when choosing a person] to mentor me.
He’s a tough guy, take care of yourself
(Laughs) It’s all good. When you want to win a championship, the tougher the better!
I have some quotes here, I want you to tell me about these: “Greatness comes at a price”, “The harder you work, the harder it is to give up”, and what quote to you want to write now of your own?
The first quote, ‘Greatness comes at a price’ is true. I mean you have to put a lot of work in, nothing is given to you for free, just because your height is seven feet doesn’t mean you’re going to be great at basketball. For you to have greatness you have to go in the gym every day and work hard, work on your craft and need to have quality work.
The other one was… sorry say it again?
“The harder you work, the harder it is to give up.”
The one thing with me I always realise, my mindset is I work very hard and I enjoy the gym. I realise when you work hard, your body gets into a habit of working that hard. So when you give up, for you to give up working that hard it’s going to be very hard for you to really see yourself going deteriorating. No one in the world ever want to deteriorate, so that’s the one thing with me.
The motto I always have, that you probably didn’t see in my room, I’m guessing you saw those quotes in my room, was from actually… I want to say it right… it goes, ‘A good player can play good every other day but a great player can play great every single day’, I believe that’s from Mr May, Mr Willie Mays of the Giants.
It just shows you have, for you to be the number 1 pick you couldn’t have just been good every other game, you had to be great every game. I had the benefit of playing on a great team, great players for them to help me tremendously, without them I don’t even get this big. It also didn’t hurt to go 38 and 0.
Is it true you practiced soccer at school?
Of course, of course we’re talking to Sao Paulo Brazil. (The journalist who posed the question was from Sao Paulo.)
Of course, I didn’t think I’d be the next Ronaldinho but I tried, I tried. I had a lot of fun playing soccer, I know a lot actually about Brazil soccer, I was growing up a lot playing FIFA, I also was a big soccer fan also. I was just really happy playing soccer, it was a great experience it really helped with my footwork and everything. To this day, I try to take some time out every other day and I just try and sit down and watch a lot of some soccer games.
I’m curious, do you see yourself and Andrew (Wiggins) as the most dynamic duo in a few years in the NBA?
That’s heavy expectations. You talk about some great duos out there: Russell Westbrook/Kevin Durant, LeBron Jame/Kyrie Irving or LeBron James/Kevin Love maybe. We’ll just try and go and there and we’re trying to be the best group we can possibly be. I can’t wait to get out there and start working with Andrew and getting our chemistry together and being on the same wavelength.
You said before in an interview before the draft you couldn’t eat ice-cream because you’re really excited about being picked number 1. Now that you are number 1, how much ice-cream are you going to eat?
You know what, I think tonight is a cookies and cream kind of night. So I’m ready to go out there and have a lot of fun.
There are a lot of number 1 draft picks at the team you’re at right now, what can you say about the potential all of you guys have as a collective?
It’s amazing to think how much talent is on this team. Yes, we had a bad year, but it wasn’t because of a lack of talent, it’s just we have to come together. We’re still a young squad; as soon as we come together I think we can become a really dynamic force, especially in the west.
During the NBA Finals there weren’t a lot of big men on the court with the way that Golden State were playing (small ball). How do you think that your game could keep you on the court in that situation?
It’s not the fact that it’s the way the NBA Finals went, I just think the NBA Finals went a weird way because of how Steve Kerr was coaching. He wanted to really make a matchup problem and take shot blockers off the court and I mean that’s just a great coaching move. I think for me I’m going to try and be as versatile as possible. Dad always told me at a young age to be as versatile as you possibly can because ‘Karl you can be as versatile as you can, you can do everything, there is no need for coach to be taking you out’.
Is it true in Kentucky that Coach Cal didn’t want you shooting so many 3’s?
Yes, he didn’t want me to shoot as much because you have to understand when you’re trying to win a championship everyone has to sacrifice a part of themselves. For me, sacrificing was some of [the three-pointers], because we needed a dominant low-post scorer and I was trying to be that for my team. I’m just so happy right now to have gone through that experience because it showed me a lot and showed me the capabilities of my game.
Towns has displayed a definite amount of maturity in handling the questions during the event, and it has been a pleasure talking to the top-drafted rookie. Our thanks go out to the NBA for putting this event together, and we’re definitely looking forward to what the Minnesota rookie can bring in the season ahead.