While Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns were the instigators of Wednesday’s brawl between the Sixers and Timberwolves, they weren’t the only players who jumped in the fray. Ben Simmons was among the players who ended up on the ground with Towns during the fracas, with referees ruling that Simmons was acting as a “peacemaker.” According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Wolves are pushing back on that ruling.
As Wojnarowski details, the Timberwolves are arguing that Simmons had Towns in a “dangerous choke hold” as he pinned him to the floor. Minnesota’s front office was in touch with NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, sources tell Wojnarowski, and presumably the Wolves would like to see Simmons receive some sort of discipline as a result of the altercation.
According to Michael Lee of The Athletic (Twitter link), people on the Wolves’ side may have been even more upset with Simmons’ actions than Embiid’s, and questioned why he was allowed to stay in the game.
For their part, the Sixers were “adamant” in supporting the referees’ conclusion that Simmons was a peacemaker, per Woj. The 76ers have also been in contact with VanDeWeghe and the league office, telling the NBA that they believe Towns was the aggressor in the fight.
The NBA will review the tape and interview participants and witnesses beginning today as it determines the appropriate punishment for those involved in the brawl, says Wojnarowski. Neither team plays until Saturday, so the league has some time to mull its decisions.
As we detailed in our earlier story on the incident, Embiid and Towns brought the fight to social media after the game, though it’s not clear whether the league will take those tweets and Instagram posts into account when considering discipline.