Things got heated in Philadelphia on Wednesday night when All-Star centers Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns got into an that resulted in both players being tossed from the game between the 76ers and Timberwolves. The incident took place early in the third quarter of the contest when Embiid and Towns got tangled up and wrestled each other to the floor before ultimately being separated by teammates, coaches and referees.
Unsurprisingly, the NBA is launching an investigation into the incident in order to assess proper punishment. The league plans to review tape and interview participants and witnesses beginning on Thursday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Philadelphia's other All-Star, Ben Simmons, will also be looked at in the investigation. Though he was initially deemed a "peacemaker" by Crew Chief Mark Ayotte, the Timberwolves think that Simmons should also face some ramifications for putting Towns in a "dangerous choke hold."
For what it's worth, Embiid doesn't think he should -- or will -- be suspended for his role in the altercation because he doesn't view himself as the instigator of the action, and he thinks that the fact that he didn't throw any punches should save him from suspension.
"I felt like you could see a lot of things the previous three possessions in the post," Embiid said when describing how the whole situation unfolded. "I kind of got it the way I wanted to, and then, I don't know, I guess that last possession, we got them to turn the ball over, and my hand was staying tangled up. And next thing I know, he's holding me; we're holding each other.
"All I did was try to be as cool as I could be in that situation," Embiid continued. "Personally, I didn't throw any punches, so I shouldn't get suspended. But they have a history of just overruling anything that comes to me in a subtle way. Hopefully they'll overrule it in the right way, but I don't expect it."
Sixers head coach Brett Brown agreed with Embiid's assessment, though he admitted that he needed to go back and re-watch to see how the fracas unfolded.
"I [didn't] see punches being thrown [by Embiid]," Brown said. "I don't believe he was the instigator."
The Sixers as an organization believe that Towns was the aggressor in the incident, and though general manager Elton Brand made it clear that the team obviously doesn't condone fighting, he also expressed support for his players.
"First and foremost, we obviously don't condone the altercation that happened last night," Brand said. "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."
In all honestly, Embiid didn't seem especially regretful regarding the altercation, as he takes pride in getting under his opponent's skin -- something he feels like he achieved with Towns on Wednesday night. The fact that the Sixers were able to pull out a 117-92 victory to move to 4-0 on the season didn't hurt either.
"That's what I'm good at. I like to get in people's minds," Embiid said. "I like to occupy that real estate. It's the game, we're just having fun, playing basketball, and then something like that is nothing. You just move on."
While he might have moved on, Embiid made sure to get in aon social media first. Towns, though, largely downplayed the evening's events and seemed more upset by the ultimate outcome of the game.
"It was a competitive game, that's all it was." Towns said. "I'm disappointed we lost, and I thought we didn't play the way we usually play; we didn't play Minnesota basketball today. We didn't execute our system the way we usually do as well, but it was a competitive game."
We will find out in short order whether or not the NBA agrees with Embiid when it comes to his role in the altercation, and his resulting punishment. Considering the intensity of the fight, and the fact that the participants are high-profile players, it wouldn't be surprising to see the league hand out some suspensions. In the meantime, you can go ahead and circle March 24, 2020 on the calendar, as that's the next time the Sixers and Wolves will go head-to-head.