It’s been quite a Monday for UK Sports, but you know what usually makes everything better? Listening to Karl Towns talk. Thankfully, we’ve got a great opportunity to do just that thanks to Karl’s appearance on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski. Karl opens up about his entire career, from interviewing Kevin Durant in high school to playing for the Dominican Republic National Team under John Calipari, his year at Kentucky, and now, his remarkable first two years in the NBA. It’s chock full of “Oh, Karl” moments, such as this wonderful reflection on playing for his father growing up.
“I look back at my career and that’s probably the best time, when you’re able to have quality time with your father. Again, I’m more blessed, not for the talents I have in basketball, not for the success I’ve found in the game, but more for the time I’ve had with two loving parents being together for so long.”
And we’re not even to the UK stuff yet…
It just got better when Karl Towns explained his decision to play for the Dominican Republic National Team knowing it meant he could never play for Team USA, a sacrifice he says he made to make his mother proud.
“I knew what I had done when I made that decision. I had all the facts before. There’s no better way than to honor your mother, the person that’s given you life than by playing for her. Every time I go out on the court wearing a Dominican Republic jersey, I know that I’m doing everything I can to make my mother proud. It’s one of those things I understood and wanted to go with regardless of the repercussions it had later in life.”
Of course, playing for the DR National Team also meant playing for its new coach, John Calipari, which Karl claims was a pure coincidence. Karl couldn’t mention Cal and Kentucky without mentioning the loss to Wisconsin in the 2015 Final Four, which he says he will carry with him for the rest of his career.
“We had a chance to really solidify ourselves. Now we have that ‘What if?’ next to our name. ‘They had the talent, they were the best team ever assembled in basketball history, but what if they would have won, would we really have crowned them that?’ Now it’s like a discussion. We never wanted a discussion. We wanted to go out and win. It’s one of those things you remember for the rest of your life. I’ve never let it go. I never will. I will take that as the biggest defeat of my life. I lost the chance to go to the Olympics. I’ve lost the TOC Championship in New Jersey, I’ve lost a lot of games in my life but that definitely will always hold up as the pinnacle and it’s something that you just never want to deal with again.”
“We understood after the game that it wasn’t more of being sad or crying or anything. It was a shock realizing one, the season is over and two, coming to the realization that we’ll never be in the same locker room ever again. And it hurt us. It hurt us, not even from an emotional crying standpoint, but more just mentally understanding that you won’t be looking across the locker room and seeing a Willie Cauley-Stein or a Devin Booker or Tyler Ulis. This is it.”
Dang it, Karl. This was supposed to make me feel better.