ORLANDO — Before Sunday's 128-96 win over Orlando, Karl-Anthony Towns went over to his father Karl Sr. and cameras caught him letting out a few emotions before taking the floor on Mother's Day.
Then Towns dried his tears, turned around and scored 27 points and had nine rebounds against Orlando. As it has all season, the NBA schedule hasn't allowed Towns much time to grieve if he feels a swell of emotion for his late mother Jacqueline, who died of complications from COVID last year. Even amid tears, duty still calls.
After the game, Towns spoke both with optimism for the Wolves' future. He also sounded weary, like he could use a break once the Wolves' season is officially over Sunday.
"For me, personally, I'm just excited, in a selfish way, to hear the last horn go off and finally take time to really try to heal the right way," Towns said. "I've put basketball front and center for my life so I wouldn't have to deal with all the demons on the back end, but it's going to be good to really get some help, you know?
"I'm excited for that personally, and also, when that last horn goes off, to truly take a step back and be proud of where I'm at. I came a long way in this year."
A year that included a left wrist injury in his second game, an injury that still hasn't completely healed, he said, along with his own COVID battle in January.
"I'm a man who likes to give they roses while people are here — I like to give they roses fresh, so I told my team right after the game, I appreciate them for everyone they've done for me, because I truly believe they gave me a new life when I didn't know if I would have one."
Towns also said the strength his mother brought out in him helped him make it through his first season without her sitting in the stands.
"There is just a strength that has been instilled in me since I was young," Towns said. "My mom has in weird ways I feel prepared me for this moment to handle more than I ever thought I possibly could. I'm just taking that strength through everything I've been through in my life."
That's why when the season is over and Towns can decompress, he's going to feel proud of himself for making it to the end of this season.
There is still a lot of work to do, a lot of healing to do physically with his body. There is also reasons to be excited for how the Wolves are ending the season.
"These guys, everyone is just growing with each other, and everyone is gluing together when it gets hard," Towns said.
There have been times where it has gotten very hard for Towns — frustration with bad losses, with his injury and COVID battle all while still dealing with grief, grief that was impossible to avoid again on Mother's Day.