When Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns sparred during a game between the 76ers and Timberwolves, the other players who got involved were immediately questioned. One of those players was Ben Simmons, who claimed he was trying to be a peacemaker during the dispute.
For the 76ers, however, Simmons wasn’t being dirty; he was being a good teammate who had a friend’s back in a heated moment. The ensuing breakdown of the fight highlighted where Simmons stands with his team and the NBA.
The fight between Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns
The fight occurred when Towns and Embiid got tangled up as other players headed down the court. It seemed like the result of tensions boiling over more than one event sparking the fisticuffs. As Embiid and Towns threw punches, the teams surrounded them and did their best to separate the feuding big men.
For Simmons, this meant wrapping his arms around Towns in a matter that some believed to be a headlock. Many expected Simmons to be suspended for this act, although Simmons said this was not the case, citing his relationship with Towns as proof.
“I don’t really have anything to say about it,” Simmons said per NBC Sports Philadelphia. “My teammate and Karl went at it, I tried to grab them and separate them and get Karl to relax a little bit because I know Karl. People know me, they know I’m not that type of player so it is what it is.”
This incident may show a positive for Simmons as a teammate and friend, even if it looked bad on film. The young athlete avoided a suspension, but he gained the respect of his teammates in the process.
Ben Simmons as a teammate
Simmons implied that there was no thought behind what he did other than being there for both his teammate and friend. It is no mistake that Embiid is the player he stood up for. While the 76ers have star talent in Tobias Harris and aging big man Al Horford, Embiid and Simmons are the duo of the future.
“As a team, we have each other’s backs, no matter what, no matter what the situation is,” Simmons said. “We’re always going to have each other’s backs with whatever happens on the floor. But at the same time, we’re a physical team. We’re not coming out here trying to fight people but at the same time, we’re a physical team.”
During skirmishes like this, it’d be easy for Simmons to brush off the incident as a one-off event, chastise those involved, or get needlessly combative, but he appeared to simply want to support a teammate and show his loyalty.
Perhaps, this can be what leads the 76ers to the contention they’ve flirted with for the last couple of years.
The 76ers now and in the future
The 76ers aren’t dominating, but they look good to begin the season. Simmons’ scoring is down, but his assists are up and his shooting is above his career average. The 76ers are working by committee behind Embiid’s 22 points per game.
In the East, however, the way the Sixers are playing in November doesn’t necessarily reflect where they will be in April and beyond.
Embiid and Simmons seem to have a close relationship even though they have such different mindsets. Embiid is loud and can often say things that will get him into trouble, while Simmons is quieter. This may, in fact, be the perfect dichotomy for the duo to work. With both players still in their early twenties, the relationship may only grow from here.