The Philadelphia 76ers have told the NBA that they believe Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns was the "aggressor" in Wednesday's on-court fight between Towns and Sixers center Joel Embiid, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
"First and foremost, we obviously don't condone the altercation that happened last night," Philadelphia general manager Elton Brand said, per Wojnarowski. "As a former player, I have experienced situations like that in the past. I understand how our players reacted in the moment. I have their backs."
Towns and Embiid were tangled up behind a play midway through the third quarter, a game in which Philadelphia led 77-55 at the time. The two big men exchanged shoves, and Towns even appeared to take a swing at Embiid before the scuffle got broken up:
Both Embiid and Towns were ejected.
Sixers star Ben Simmons was the first outside player from either team to get involved in the altercation, as he pulled Towns off Embiid. Though he initially appeared to be de-escalating the situation by separating the combatants, Simmons also seemed to put Towns in some form of a chokehold down on the floor:
Referee Mark Ayotte said after the game that Simmons was permitted to remain in the game because he was "deemed a peacemaker," per Wojnarowski. The Timberwolves rejected that notion, reportedly claiming Simmons had Towns in a "dangerous chokehold."
Wojnarowski noted Thursday Philadelphia has "doubled-down" on the referee's assertion, also calling Simmons a peacemaker in the brawl.
Now, both teams must wait to see what additional punishment the league hands down:
This was just the latest chapter in the Embiid-Towns rivalry.
Back in December 2017, the two stars engaged in some back-and-forth on social media after Embiid took to Instagram to celebrate a victory in Minnesota.
Towns and Embiid again went at it on social media after Wednesday's on-court skirmish. After Embiid said (Warning: Link contains NSFW language) that he "ain't no b---h," Towns mocked the 76ers star on Instagram, putting his location as "All Bark & No Bite," among other things.
Embiid responded (Warning: Link contains NSFW language):
Joel Embiid @JoelEmbiid
That tough guy act ain’t cutting it .... you know what you are.. you know what you’ve always been>>> A PUSSY (SAY IT LOUDER FOR PEOPLE IN THE BACK) Been kicking your ass and pretty please make the playoffs before you talk. It’s a known thing that I OWN YOU. @KarlTowns https://t.co/Izqwk3pEnM
Both Towns and Embiid will likely be hearing from the league office about possible suspensions.
The NBA may try to send a message with discipline to discourage the situation from spiraling out of control in future meetings. Of note, Minnesota will host Philadelphia on March 24.