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Report: 76ers Told NBA Karl-Anthony Towns Was 'Aggressor' in Joel Embiid Fight

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers gets in a fight with Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the third quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on October 30, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Did Ben Simmons really put KAT in a chokehold? https://t.co/kS5JvT63CY

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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:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

So Kiki VanDeWeghe and the league office now has the responsibility of examining video replays of the Sixers-Timberwolves scuffle, conduct interviews with players, refs, team officials and ultimately come to a decision on meting out punishment.

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.

This past January, Embiid referenced an infamous Timberwolves practice involving Jimmy Butler while celebrating a victory over Minnesota on social media.

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.

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