LEXINGTON, Ky. — Former Kentucky basketball star, No. 1 overall pick and NBA Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns had strong words about race relations in America, and a rebuke for President Donald J. Trump, in a piece penned for The Players’ Tribune on Friday.
The recent white supremacy rally turned murder scene in Charlottesville, Va., left Towns feeling “defeated,” he wrote. “Not hopeless — I’ve got hope. But just exhausted. If you’re a minority in America, just watching the news can be exhausting. Normally, I’m an optimistic guy … but I guess these emotions can creep up on you.”
Towns wrote how it hit home for him in 2016 when Philando Castile was shot and killed by police in Minnesota, where Towns is the face of the NBA’s Timberwolves franchise. He wrote that teammates and other minorities around the league began to wonder, “What if I didn’t play in the NBA … would that be me?”
He wrote that the ugly events in Charlottesville didn’t shock him — because he’s seen racism alive and well in America for a long time now — but that Trump’s reaction to those events did surprise him.
“Our President was given a layup: Denounce white supremacists. And he couldn’t … and wouldn’t. He missed … he missed badly. The President’s response … was just like catching the ball on a fast break — no one else is even past half court — and then tripping on your own feet inside the paint as the ball flies out of bounds.”
“It’s disheartening when our President doesn’t understand his words carry a tremendous amount of weight. It’s really hard to see our President refuse to stand up for what’s right — at a time when the country needs it.”
He then preemptively addressed the “stick to sports” crowd, saying that “basketball is what I do for a living, not who I am as a man.” Towns, who is back in Lexington this weekend, presumably to participate in the UK Charity Alumni Game at Rupp Arena on Friday night, had plenty more to say in his thought-provoking piece.
Read it all right here at The Players’ Tribune. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Towns gets back in Kentucky, where there are quite a few Confederate monuments — which are at the center of the latest race-related controversy nationally — still standing.
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