Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid was met with “MVP” chants Wednesday night after he and Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns were ejected from the game following a tense on-court brawl which emptied the benches on both sides.
The Sixers were leading 75-55 halfway through the third quarter when Embiid and Towns began shoving each other. The altercation became violent when Towns took a swing at Embiid and missed, prompting the power forward to wrestle him to the ground.
At one point, Embiid could be seen jamming his right thumb into Towns’ eye.
Players and staff from both benches rushed down the court to break up the fight. Ben Simmons, a point guard for the Sixers, jumped in and put Towns into a headlock.
The two were thrown from the game after officials ruled it a fight.
“We deemed the altercation a fight. Therefore, by rule, they’re both ejected,” said Mark Ayotte, the officials’ crew chief. “I just saw them each lock arms. And that escalated to the fight.”
While heading back to the locker room, Embiid began to shadowbox, prompting fans to cheer “MVP!”
“I was built for this city,” Embiid said following the game. “The love they have for me, I can’t thank them enough. I appreciate all the love. That reaction was probably the loudest I ever heard them. That’s what the city of Philadelphia is all about.”
The two players risk suspension but Embiid didn’t seem too concerned because he “didn’t throw any punches,” a notion backed by head coach Brett Brown.
“I don’t see punches being thrown (by Embiid) and I don’t believe he was the instigator.”
Towns downplayed the fight.
“It’s a competitive game. As a team, we need to play better with our system. We didn’t execute our game plan,” he said. “I’m disappointed in the (loss). I don’t think we played our game. We were playing a different type of basketball.”
But the fight appeared to continue after the game, with both players taking to social media to trash talk.
Early Thursday morning, Towns posted on Instagram a number of pictures of the brawl and a picture of Embiid appearing to cry, with the caption “I aIN’t nO B***** RaiSeD ARoUnD LiOnS.”
Embiid replied: “Imagine talking after a 20 pts loss. You hate to see it lmao.”
“Go ahead using that pic of me caring about losing in the second round OF THE PLAYOFFS,” he continued. “Oh wait you’ve never been there… Don’t get it twisted I OWN YOU.”
The Sixers went on to defeat the Wolves 117-95.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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