To quote Ron Burgundy, “Boy, that escalated quickly.”
As Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns await news of possible suspensions following a fight at the Wells Fargo Center during the Sixers’ 117-95 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night, the two NBA stars continued to trade blows on social media well into the night.
After telling ESPN’s Rachel Nichols just last week he was a “changed man” and done with trash talking, it was Embiid who took the first shot on social media, mentioning Towns’ mother in a otherwise innocuous Instagram post just before midnight, which included the hashtag #FightNight
Towns quickly responded by labeling Embiid a clown and including a photo of the Sixers star crying following last season’s heartbreaking loss to the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs. He also stole a move from Embiid by tagging his location as “All Bark & No Bite.”
Embiid took things up a notch in a comment on Towns’ Instagram, where he pointed out that Towns had never played in a playoff game and hurled a couple of profane insults before ending with, “Don’t get it twisted I OWN YOU.”
After Towns either deleted or hid Embiid’s Instagram comment, the Sixers star jumped on Twitter to continue his trolling, complete with a screenshot of the insult-filled trolling. He also repeated his profane insult, this time in all caps, capping off his post with, “It’s a known thing that I OWN YOU.”
Both Embiid and Towns were ejected during the third quarter, following a fight that started when Towns failed to connect on a punch after the two centers collided. The two began to wrestle and fell to the ground, and other players got involved, including Ben Simmons, who wasn’t ejected for having Towns in a headlock.
“Joel Embiid is on another level from Karl-Anthony Towns. And you have to think that it was a deep-seeded understanding of this fact that led to the scuffle that resulted in the ejections of both big men,” columnist David Murphy wrote following the game. “Towns is a nice player, but Embiid is a game-changer, and you saw it throughout the Sixers’ win.”
“We got them to turn the ball over, and my hand was tangled up, and next thing I know he is holding me," Embiid told reporters following the game. "We are holding each other, but it is basketball. That is what I am good at — I like to get in people’s mind… .”
Embiid, who left the court throwing air-punches in a nod to Rocky, received a loud ovation from the crowd as he exited the arena.
“It was good for the city and good for me to see the reaction and the love they have for me,” Embiid said. " I can’t thank them enough."