Ex-Cats

Towns on why he wrote about Charlottesville: ‘The intention is to spread love’

Karl-Anthony Towns dunked during the UK Alumni Charity basketball game in Rupp Arena on Friday.
Karl-Anthony Towns dunked during the UK Alumni Charity basketball game in Rupp Arena on Friday.

Former University Kentucky star Karl-Anthony Towns said he called for love to overcome racism in the aftermath of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Va., in hopes of ending the need for anyone else to do so in the future.

“When you live in this time, you want to make sure that you don’t have history repeat itself,” Towns said after UK’s Alumni Charity Game on Friday night.

In reaction to the hate on display in Charlottesville, Towns wrote a column that was posted on The Players’ Tribune website earlier Friday. When asked about what he wrote, he said he had future generations in mind.

“I want to have my kids, when I’m very fortunate enough to have kids, I want them to feel safe in streets …,” Towns said. “My dream is to avoid that conversation about the color of their skin.”

Former UK teammate Trey Lyles voiced support of Towns.

“I agree with everything he’s saying …,” said Lyles, who also played in the Alumni Charity Game. “Karl is an outspoken guy. So I wasn’t surprised that he did it. But I’m glad he did.”

Towns continued the theme at the UK Alumni Charity Game by putting the words “Love Trumps Hate” on his basketball shoes.

In the column, Towns said President Donald Trump “missed badly” the opportunity to denounce racism in his reaction to the events in Charlottesville. “Should’ve been pretty easy,” Towns wrote.

But in his comments Friday, Towns said he did not intend to “bash anybody.”

“The intention is to spread love …,” Towns said. “You always seem to do better when you put love into it.”

Towns said he hoped to spark a conversation based on respect and love. “We very much lack that humanity,” he said.

Towns made a sobering point in the column when he wrote that the victims of hate crimes could be the star basketball player who happens to be black.

“When you’re a minority in this country, you just feel it could be you due to the circumstances,” Towns said after the game. “A lot of times, we always think it’s a coincidence. I don’t think coincidences could happen six times in a row.”

Towns said the column reflected what he and friends would say privately in the aftermath of a hate crime or a killing motivated by race. The column was out of character to a degree, he said.

Towns acknowledged pondering the possible criticism for writing the column.

“You always worry about what people will say …,” he said. “The first thing when I thought of (writing the column) was maybe I shouldn’t do it. That’s exactly what I think people wanted me to do. I decided to go the route I felt was right. I put my passion, my soul, my feelings, my ideals, my values, my morals into (the column).”

It was a considered, thoughtful attempt to address the issues he felt needed to be addressed, he said.

“I very much took my time …,” he said. “Four drafts later, there goes what you saw today.”

Towns also acknowledged that some people think athletes should “stick to sports.” He suggested this reflected a bias against athletes.

“I think everyone thinks we’re athletes,” he said. “Our intellectual capacity is not enough to understand topics or not able to verbally explain your feelings. … But that’s not true. There’s a lot of us athletes, I think a lot of us are well-educated.”

Lyles voiced a similar sentiment.

“People are starting to take notice we have more focuses other than basketball,” he said. “We know what’s going on in the world.”

Former UK mens basketball coach Joe B. Hall coaches a team and signs autographs with other past UK mens basketball players during The Legends game and the UK Alumni Charity Game at Rupp Arena Thursday evening.

UK-Mizzou

Kentucky-Missouri games have been snoozers the last few seasons. But surely not in 2017-18.

This came to mind while glancing through Athlon’s preseason preview magazine Friday. Athlon picked Missouri’s heralded freshman, Michael Porter Jr., as its SEC Player of the Year.

A question-and-answer feature on Porter included this:

Q: Is there a game you are looking forward to this season?

A: “I am really looking forward to going against Kentucky.”

Q: Why?

A: “Just because there are so many players on that team that I know and I am cool with, and we both have been talking about that game. You know, me and Kevin Knox are real close. He could have come to Missouri, but he chose Kentucky. So it will be kind of a rivalry game. It’s just going to be a fun game with everyone joking ... and stuff like that.”

Former UK mens basketball coach Joe B. Hall coaches a team and signs autographs with other past UK mens basketball players during The Legends game and the UK Alumni Charity Game at Rupp Arena Thursday evening.

Totality takeaways

Here are three takeaways from a trip to Franklin, Ky., to watch Monday’s solar eclipse:

1. Totality makes all the difference. As the moon oh-so-slowly covers the sun, the protective eclipse glasses that must be worn detach the viewer from the experience. You might as well watch on television. When you look away after taking off the glasses (don’t look at the sun for more than three continuous minutes), you can see the light grow pale, The temperature decreases (refreshing on a day when the heat index neared 100 degrees). But while looking through the glasses, the sun is a sickly orange spot on a soulless black backdrop. The eclipse itself seems unreal and cartoonish.

When the moon totally covers the sun, you can take off the glasses. This serves as a cosmic freeing of the soul as you stare at totality. I was transfixed. Of course, it helps to have a clear sky like the one the crowd of about 1,000 at a Franklin park enjoyed. You marvel at the sun’s corona. It’s not a starry, starry night in the middle of the afternoon. But the sky darkened enough to allow Venus and Mercury to appear at a distance on either side of the moon/sun. The two-plus minutes of totality led to goose bumps. More than one observer admitted to tears. The sun slowly reappearing from behind the moon in the second half of the eclipse was anticlimactic.

2. Aside from the protective eyewear, among the many bits of advice associated with viewing a total eclipse, the most valuable may be this: Fill up the gas tank before starting the drive home. Drivers leaving the park in Franklin were told to expect slow going. That was putting it mildly. I-65 was bumper to bumper for as far as you could see. The drive back to Lexington took almost six hours, and that included the welcomed oasis of an uncongested Bluegrass Parkway.

3. After witnessing this celestial majesty, all things basketball, even Kentucky basketball, shrink to a mere human dimension.

Big Blue Apple?

Carl Nathe, an information officer in UK’s public relations office, was in New York City on a family visit last month. He, his wife Ellen, daughter Emily and son Andrew were near Times Square one day heading to see the play “War Paint,” Andrew noticed a familiar face.

Andrew saw ex-Cat Shagari Alleyne. After reminiscing about past UK days and mentioning that he planned to play in the alumni charity game, Alleyne posed for a picture with the Nathes. Emily took the photo.

“He couldn’t have been nicer,” Nathe said. “He seemed very happy to see people from Kentucky.”

Championship odds

In case you missed it, Bovada updated its odds on the 2018 national championship on Tuesday.

The odds of a Kentucky championship remained at 9/1. UK was a 9/1 choice when Bovada announced its odds on April 5.

Duke is a 5/1 favorite to win the title (down from 14/1 in April). Michigan State is the second choice at 13/2. Louisville is among three teams at 20/1.

The other teams at 20/1 are North Carolina and — surprise — Missouri.

The only other SEC teams at better than 100/1 are Florida (33/1) and Alabama (50/1).

Belated happy birthday

To Christian Laettner. He turned 48 on Aug. 17. … To Archie Goodwin. He turned 23 on Aug. 17. … To Kenny Walker. He turned 53 on Aug. 18. … To Willie Cauley-Stein. He turned 24 on Aug. 18. … To former Florida Coach Lon Kruger. He turned 65 on Aug. 19. … To Quinn Buckner. He turned 63 last Sunday.

Happy birthday

To Jodie Meeks. He turned 30 on Monday. … To Todd Tackett. He turned 38 on Tuesday. … To UK president Eli Capilouto. He turned 68 on Tuesday. … To former Mississippi State Coach Richard Williams. He turned 72 on Tuesday. … To freshman PJ Washington. He turned 19 on Wednesday. … To Kent Hollenbeck. He turned 67 on Thursday. … To Richie Farmer. He turned 48 on Friday. … To UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart. He turns 58 on Sunday (today). … To Bob Guyette. He turns 64 on Tuesday. … To Morakinyo “Mike” Williams. He turns 29 on Tuesday.

Jerry Tipton: 859-231-3227, @JerryTipton

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