Former University of Kentucky star Karl-Anthony Towns was cleared to return to the Minnesota Timberwolves following a highway automobile crash he called himself fortunate to have escaped alive.
The All-Star center spoke to reporters Monday before Minnesota’s game against Sacramento. He said he was on his way Thursday to meet the team at the airport, with assistant strength and conditioning coach Kurt Joseph driving, when a semitruck slammed into the back of their vehicle.
According to Towns, the car in front of them slowed down for another accident further down the road, forcing them to a rather abrupt stop. Towns said he was talking to Joseph about the car ahead of them, but Joseph was noticing the semi coming up on them from behind. Towns estimated the truck was coming at them between 35 and 45 miles per hour.
“The next thing you know we got hit,” Towns said. “It happened so quick, so I’m just glad everyone is safe. Everyone is alive.”
Towns emerged with only minor injuries. He took a commercial flight to New York, but he was held out of the game Friday and again Saturday at Milwaukee per the league’s concussion protocol. That ended his streak of 303 consecutive games started, the longest to start an NBA career since 1970-71.
“It could’ve been much worse,” Towns told reporters. “In all honesty, I probably should not have made it out like I did. But I’m glad I did. …
“I would say I had a five-percent chance of making it out alive. I hit the five-percent mark. And then, I’d say four percent was to be seriously injured, and one percent was to be minorly injured. And I came out in the one percent. So it’s not bad.”
Towns said it was difficult letting his family know about the accident. Anticipating their reaction, he chose to text his mother and father. He called his sister. But, he said, she thought he was joking and hung up on him.
Ultimately, word got through. Smiling, Towns reported that his sister’s first question was whether he’d miss the New York game.
Towns teased teammate Taj Gibson, who drove past the scene of the accident on his way to the airport. “I still make jokes to Taj every day about he saw me in this crazy car wreck and just kept driving the airport,” Towns said. “He didn’t want to get a fine or something.”
But seriously: Being placed into the concussion protocol was, Towns said, the right move. Even if having to watch consecutive games from the bench, in street clothes, was strange. Asked if he felt the need to get help regarding any possible emotional trauma, Towns said no.
“It was pretty gnarly,” he said of the crash. “I ain’t gonna lie. But like I said, I’m just blessed.”