There "actually isn't anything personal" between Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns despite their back-and-forth both on and off the court through the years, sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
The rivalry reached a tipping point Wednesday night in Philadelphia when the two big men were involved in an on-court altercation:
Embiid and Towns were each ejected from the game, but that did little to put an end to the tense situation.
Embiid told reporters (warning: link contains NSFW language) during his postgame press conference that he "ain't no b---h." He later reiterated that sentiment on social media:
Towns responded by mocking his Philadelphia combatant on Instagram, putting his location as "All Bark & No Bite," among other things.
Being the trash-talker he is, Embiid couldn't help but respond (warning: tweet 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
Towns and Embiid were subsequently suspended two games apiece for their actions.
Wednesday's antics were just the latest chapter of this growing rivalry, though.
Back in December 2017, they exchanged jabs on Instagram after Embiid celebrated a victory in Minnesota. This past January, Embiid cited an infamous Timberwolves practice involving Jimmy Butler while celebrating a victory over Minnesota on social media.
It's worth noting that Embiid has found himself in so-called feuds with a number of players around the Association since he entered the league in 2014.
Even if Towns and Embiid do not truly have any personal grudges against one another, commissioner Adam Silver and Co. will likely be keeping a close eye on the next meeting between the Timberwolves and Sixers, which will be played in Minnesota on March 24.