Entertainment FLY Interviews

NBA Rookie Of The Year Karl-Anthony Towns Talks Verizon Partnership, Technology, & Upcoming Season At The 2016 ESSENCE Festival

The annual ESSENCE Festival took place in New Orleans, LA over the holiday weekend. Like previous year’s the festival included live musical performances, discussions, addresses, and so much more.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone

Among those in attendance this weekend was the NBA’s 2016 Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns, in partnership with Verizon took part in #VerizonInspires; which featured meet and greets, panel discussions, and of course music. In an effort to inspire tomorrow’s creators an innovative learning hub was created where attendees could tinker with the latest technological devices, charge up their phones, and win prizes.

Before Town’s sat down to talk with SFPL‘s own Gabriel Williams he oversaw a running man challenge face-off between a few of the teens in attendance. After wrapping up the brief competition the Minnesota Timberwolves center discussed partnering with Verizon, his experience with technology, and even divulged on who he was looking forward to seeing perform. Peep the full interview below and don’t forget to check out our recap of the ESSENCE Festival weekend.

What brings you here tonight?

I’m here helping Verizon with a mentoring program they have that teaches kids how to use technology to their advantage. You know technology is something that the culture and community is changing with, it’s become something of a necessity not even a luxury anymore. Just trying to teach these kids the technology that’s out there and also have them accommodate to it.

How familiar are you with technology? Can you build websites or do anything specific that we should know about?

Yes. I’ve been blessed to have a school system that’s helped me utilize technology to my advantage. Computer classes, typing, making websites, and having an after-school program that helped me learn how to use [technology] better. These things have tremendously helped me in my career.

Reaching this point in your career did you ever think you’d be working with Verizon? How does that feel?

You know it’s amazing. I’ve been a Verizon customer not even a brand ambassador since I was young. Since I had my first cellphone, I’ve had Verizon so it’s amazing to think that after all these years  now I’m representing the company and it’s a blessing and an honor to represent such a great company that I personally use myself.

Is this your first time at ESSENCE Fest?

Yes, it’s my first time ever. Hopefully it won’t be my last.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 03: Puff Daddy performs at the 2016 ESSENCE festival at the Superdome on July 3, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)
Puff Daddy performs at the 2016 ESSENCE festival at the Superdome on July 3, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

Who are you looking forward to performing?

You know they have a lot of great performers. Andra Day killed it out there. Ciara is right now killing it. I’m really excited actually to see the last two. It’s more of my area, Puff Daddy and The Family. Being from the New York area that’s something that everyone grows up with. So Puff Daddy is big with us especially with BIG being a part of the group once upon a time. For me also Kendrick Lamar. I’m a big Kendrick Lamar fan. I can’t wait to see him perform live, I’ve never seen him perform live so it’s going to be a very cool experience.

What else can we expect from you? What do you have coming up?

I have a lot of new things in my toolbox.  A lot of new tools. So I’m just going to utilize them to my advantage. I’m going to take those tools and you’re going to see a whole different player next year with the same type of game you saw last year.

If you were stuck on an island and you could only have three albums what albums would those be?

So I’m going to go the smart route. I’m going to take 2Pac Greatest Hits album the two disc set so that counts as one. I’ll take Chronic by Dr. Dre, and Good Kid Maad City by Kendrick. I’d put Drake’s Nothing Was The Same on there but I’d be too depressed the whole time being by myself. I need something to keep me going. I think those three. If I had honorable mentions I’d throw Kanye West Graduation and lastly I would pick Ice Cube KKK Most Wanted.


Congrats to Towns on earning this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year award. We can’t wait to see him hit the court when the new season starts. As always, stay fly.