As Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and 76ers center Joel Embiid fought last night, 76ers guard Ben Simmons grabbed Towns from behind. Simmons was still holding Towns as the bigs fell to the floor.
Yet, only Towns and Embiid got ejected.
That apparently isn’t sitting well in Minnesota.
As the NBA’s investigation into the altercation between Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns begins, the Minnesota Timberwolves are rejecting the game officials’ designation of Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons as a “peacemaker” in the fracas, league sources tell ESPN.
Referee Mark Ayotte told a pool reporter Wednesday night that Simmons was “deemed a peacemaker” for an act that included him holding Towns to the floor in what the Timberwolves contend was a “dangerous choke hold,” league sources told ESPN.
After the game, Simmons said, “I always got my teammate’s back.”
NBC Sports Philadelphia:
Good luck determining intent.
Does always having Embiid’s back mean joining the fight against Towns? Maybe.
Does always having Embiid’s back mean trying to pull an attacker off him? Maybe.
With either mindset, Simmons’ actions during the fight would look similar. The league faces a difficult job – especially with the Timberwolves opposing the referees’ determination.
Minnesota opens a slippery slope with this argument, though. With Embiid on the floor, Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague grabbed the 76ers center from behind. Was Teague playing peacemaker or going after Embiid? These interpretations get complicated in a hurry.