Karl-Anthony Towns has only played in only six games so far this season, so playing basketball and trying to go about his life after the death of his mother, Jacqueline, and multiple family members is still very new to Towns.
Especially since he had the added worry of his own recent difficult COVID-19 battle.
What has become clear in those six games is just how difficult it has been for Towns each time he has stepped on the floor.
There was the moment in the preseason when Towns couldn't make it off the bench during pregame introductions as he was suiting up for the first time without Jacqueline there to watch him.
Then there was Friday night, when the Hornets had three players ruled out just before the game because of COVID protocols. Towns said it "spooked" him in a way that made playing the game hard. But Towns also acknowledged the unfortunate reality of the situation — that the NBA moneymaking machine has to keep moving.
"We understand things are going to keep going regardless of how I feel," Towns said. "So I've got to do my best to think for these guys, even if it's something I'm tremendously uncomfortable doing. There's a lot of sacrifices us players make for the enjoyment of the fans. We put our lives, we put our health on the line, especially with something like this going on."
Since he hasn't played regularly this season, first because of a left wrist dislocation and then because of his COVID battle, Towns hasn't met with the media all that much. But each time he does he has provided a candid look into someone still grappling with the emotional and mental toll the virus can have.
Towns said he went to coach Ryan Saunders before Friday's game and asked if the Wolves were actually going to play the game when people may have been exposed to the virus. As stringent as the NBA's protocols can be, they are not full proof, and that caused Towns' mind to go into a spiral just minutes before tipoff.
Even though he said he has antibodies and isn't afraid of his own re-infection, he felt the burden of concern for his teammates and opponents.
"I'm just worried. It's not going to stop. The world, especially America, is just getting more and more COVID cases. I'm just worried. My heart goes out to all the people that have gotten COVID, the families that have been affected by it. I just couldn't stomach seeing one of my guys get it and not being able to do anything.
"I've already had that situation once, I'm not trying to have that one again."
Towns was asked if there were ever moments he thinks about just going to the team and telling them he doesn't feel like playing on a particular night.
"Those conversations and those thoughts have come into my head, especially [Friday]," he said. "I just wasn't comfortable at all, especially being around people."
But he has said he feels a sense of obligation to his teammates to keep playing. Towns said he'd like to have some conversations with the league regarding its protocols and how it can better protect players from the virus, from a physical standpoint.
Because as Towns has shown in his candor, the emotional and mental toll can weigh heavy on anybody well after the physical symptoms are gone.
"I was more worried for our guys," Towns said. "I don't want them to go through what I went through."