Ahead of his team's matchup against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns showed up to the arena wearing the jersey of deceased former Minnesota player Malik Sealy.

Sealy passed away in a car accident on May 20, 2000.

He was driving home from a birthday celebration for teammate and best friend Kevin Garnett in downtown Minneapolis when his sport utility vehicle was struck by a pickup truck traveling the wrong way down the highway. The truck driver survived the accident with head and chest injuries. Neither driver was wearing a seatbelt. The truck driver's airbag deployed, but Sealy's SUV did not have one.

Blood tests indicated that at the time of the accident, the other driver had been driving drunk; his blood alcohol content was 0.19%. The legal limit in Minnesota at the time was 0.1%. He pleaded guilty to a charge of vehicular manslaughter, was given a four-year prison term, and was released from prison in 2003. In April 2008, he was given an eight-year sentence for a subsequent drunk driving conviction.

In Sealy's honor, the Timberwolves retired his #2 jersey. Kevin Garnett also paid a tribute to him, having written “2MALIK” in the inside of the tongue of his shoes. Garnett has a tattoo honoring Sealy's name on his right arm. After being traded from the Boston Celtics to the Brooklyn Nets, Garnett changed his uniform number to #2 in honor of Sealy. In his homecoming to Minnesota on February 25, 2015, Garnett also wore a #2 sweatband on his left forearm in memory of Sealy.

Timberwolves open Western Conference Finals against Mavericks

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) reacts before the game against the Dallas Mavericks in game one of the western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center.
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Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves are playing a confident brand of basketball as they head into the Western Conference Finals.

Game 1 projects to be an exciting contest between two teams that are hungry for an NBA Finals appearance.

With Edwards, it appears that Towns has found the right partner to combo off of him from the perimeter. While Towns is a unicorn who can operate from anywhere on the floor, Edwards' otherworldly athleticism and shot-creation abilities give the former Kentucky Wildcats star even more angles to work on offense. Edwards makes it easier for the Timberwolves to run their twin-tower pairing of Towns and Gobert, and it showed in the first two rounds of the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

The Mavs offer a different challenge for the Timberwolves, but it's not difficult to think that Minnesota is confident it can get the job done versus Luka Doncic and company. After all, the Timberwolves just ended the short reign of the Nuggets as champions of the NBA.