The match, to which the Timberwolves lost 112-107, was the first Towns Sr. had attended since his wife, Jackie Cruz-Towns, died of complications from COVID-19 on April 13, 2020.
After the game, Towns said his father was there to mean “everything” to him.
“He understood how upset I was after the loss,” Towns said. “But he came up to me, and he said something to me that I don’t know if he should have told me. It moved me a bit. He told me that my mom would have been proud of the way I was playing tonight. ”
Towns Sr. was one of the first Barclays Center fans on Monday. He walked down the steps to the yard and smiled and waved as his son walked through the layup lines, taking photos and videos.
“My dad and I were emotional going into the game,” Towns said. “Because he made his presence known. It affected me because my mom always did it. ”
Papa Towns in attendance for tonight’s game 🐺 pic.twitter.com/6ehvuegsIt
– Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) 29 mars 2021
Cruz-Towns had been a constant presence at Timberwolves games. She often sat near the pitch, visited opposing players she had come to know over the years, and was known to loudly and enthusiastically cheer on her son.
“My mom would be the one going to the candlestick,” Towns said on Monday, “or be there and wave until I say hello to her or come over and give her a hug. ”
Towns said his mother was in a medically induced coma and was placed on a ventilator due to the virus on March 25, 2020. Towns Sr. was also diagnosed with coronavirus, was hospitalized and recovered. Cruz-Towns was 58 when she died.
Towns, who grew up in New Jersey, had about a dozen family members in attendance at Monday’s game to support him.
“It was definitely the first time my family had watched me play in person,” Towns said. “And it’s crazy to see my dad, I’m like, ‘Where’s my mom?’ She will come and obviously she will not show up. It affected me, but I’m going there and playing the best I can for this team. ”
Cities finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists, including key points to help Wolves recover from a double-digit deficit. Afterward, he stayed and played tag with his niece and nephew in the field while Barclays Center workers turned off the lights.
“It’s touching,” Towns Sr. told ESPN. “I’m happy to be back to support him. This is what she would have wanted too. ”
Royce Young of ESPN contributed to this report.