LOS ANGELES – Last season, when Karl-Anthony Towns found out he made the All-Star team, he dropped his phone, put his head in his hands and appeared to start crying. It was an emotional moment amid a trying season, Towns said then.
This season, Towns didn’t make the cut despite averaging 27 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. There were cases for and against Towns. His offensive numbers are better than almost every Western Conference frontcourt player selected ahead of him. The case against: he missed 17 games over the first half of the season and his defensive metrics aren’t very good. He is 65th out of 65 centers in defensive real plus-minus, ESPN’s metric that is supposed to calculate how a player adds to (or detracts from) his team winning regardless of who’s on the floor with him. Towns is first in offense among centers.
Towns wasn’t thrilled with missing out on the team, and he made his feelings known after Saturday’s loss to the Clippers.
“I’m worried about our team, about getting W’s,” Towns said. “I’m desensitized to being disrespected in this league. I’ve been disrespected since I came in. It’s nothing new when I didn’t see my name up there. When you’re a person who’s been disrespected like me so much, it’s something you expect, honestly. You’re kind of shocked when you do get it.”
A combination of fan vote, players and media selected the starters; coaches selected the reserves in each league. Towns didn’t hold back his thoughts on the assembled rosters.
“It’s unfortunate that this year’s All-Star Game won’t have the 24 best players in the NBA,” he said. “But we got to go out there every night and just find ways to win, because it’s not about the All-Star Game, it’s about being in the NBA finals, being in the playoffs, about winning games. That’s how you build a legacy.”
Towns wasn’t alone in his disappointment. His coach also didn’t hold back his displeasure with the results.
“He’s a transcendent talent …” Ryan Saunders said. “Some of the numbers he’s able to put up — these are games you’re playing some tough teams that he’s keeping us in games.”
Towns tweeted his dismay over his friend Devin Booker, the Suns guard averaging 27.1 points per game, missing the cut. Wizards guard Bradley Beal also didn’t make it despite ranking sixth in the league with 28.7 points per game.
To that end, Beal’s agent Mark Bartelstein had some intriguing comments that could apply to Towns’ situation in Minnesota. Bartelstein told the Washington Post the league’s coaches were sending a “horrible message” in not selecting Beal because he is putting up big numbers on a team that’s struggling.
“He could’ve made the choice to be a bandwagon jumper and just go on and join a higher-level team and he would’ve been guaranteed in the All-Star Game,” Bartelstein told the Post. “But he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to be loyal to his organization and the coaches in the NBA are holding it against Brad that he was loyal.”
Insert “Karl” for “Brad” and the quote could stick. Towns made his comments in Los Angeles, where the city is mourning the death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. Bryant spent 20 years with the Lakers despite occasional frustration over the direction of the franchise, and became adored by the fan base. Towns said he could envision staying in Minnesota permanently, as Bryant did.
“Obviously if the cards play right and everything, I would love to do that,” Towns said. “I’m a guy who is very comfortable having that kind of career.”
All parties hope the All-Star recognition will follow.