NEW YORK – Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns was proud of the fact he had never missed a game in his NBA career. That changed Friday, and the twist for Towns was his absence came as a result of an injury he suffered off the court.
Towns was involved in a car accident Thursday as he was traveling to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in advance of the team’s game against the Knicks and as a result Towns entered the NBA’s concussion protocol, causing him to miss Friday’s game, coach Ryan Saunders said. It ended Towns’ streak of consecutive games played at 303.
Towns was with the team in New York and at Friday’s game. Saunders said Towns’ timeline for recovery was “day by day.” After missing the team’s flight, Towns took a commercial flight to New York. Saunders said Wolves medical staff examined Towns before his flight and Towns was cleared to fly even though he entered the concussion protocol Friday. The Wolves had initially put Towns on their injury report Friday because of “rest,” and Saunders said he found out Towns was entering the protocol shortly before Friday’s game.
There were few details known about the accident Friday.
“Moving forward we’ll know more with it all. But at this time that’s all we know,” Saunders said.
A source told the Star Tribune that Towns was not the driver of the vehicle.
A spokesperson for Towns’ agency, Creative Artists Agency, declined to comment.
Towns did not attend the team’s shootaround Friday and instead rested at the team’s hotel.
His teammates were glad Towns wasn’t injured worse than he was. The streak was secondary.
“That’s most important, that he’s healthy and he’s doing OK,” Andrew Wiggins said. “Because a lot of things could’ve went wrong, but God was watching over him. So we’re happy. We’re relieved.”
Guard Tyus Jones said the accident puts life in perspective for him and the Wolves.
“It just goes to show nothing’s promised,” Jones said. “Tomorrow isn’t promised. Life and things can turn in a matter of seconds in the blink of an eye. Obviously you get in a car and you’re not thinking you’re going to be in a crash or anything like that. It just puts things in perspective for sure. People need a reminder to just be thankful and grateful for just being able to wake up today.”
Towns’ absence comes as the Wolves were getting over a rash of injuries to their point guards, as Jones made his return to the lineup. Compounding matters for the Wolves was the fact that backup center Gorgui Dieng missed Friday’s game because of personal reasons. Taj Gibson started in Towns’ place.
To return to the floor, Towns must clear the league’s concussion protocol and will have to pass a variety of physical tests, including jogging, pedaling a stationary bike and agility work and get approval from a doctor.
“I’d just like to have him out there because he’s a pretty good player,” Saunders said. “So the streak, that is something that I think everybody should definitely take note of with Karl’s durability and his toughness and how he approaches the game. From a coach’s viewpoint, you’d like to have a player like Karl on the floor whenever you can.”
Before Friday, that was every night. Now the Wolves wait to see when Towns can make it back.