It was a clash of the titans as All-Star centers Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns — of the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves, respectively — threw down in the third quarter of their Oct. 30 game in Philadelphia.
But the fighting didn’t stop there.
Embiid, who is notorious for his trash talking on social media, later blasted Towns on Instagram, saying, “Don’t get it twisted, I OWN YOU,” and calling Towns, whose is frequently referred to as KAT, a “p***y.” Towns responded with an Instagram post mocking Embiid for saying the Philly player had been “raised around lions.” Towns went on to describe Embiid’s trash talk as “#B**chTalk.”
Both players were suspended for two games for their on-court tussle and their subsequent cyber fight.
I believe that sports fans deserve more petty social media battles between players. While on-court fights are dangerous and undesirable, Twitter and Instagram skirmishes are amazing in every way.
It’s not the fact that social media is used as a medium to perpetuate animosity between two or more players. It’s the immaturity of their insults that really makes these confrontations a sight to see. For example, Embiid point out that Towns has never won a playoff game, and Towns used clown emojis to insult Embiid in response. Their posts were so petty and juvenile that it has made their rivalry all the more entertaining.
And it’s not exclusive to Towns or Embiid. Back in 2014, former Houston Texans running back Arian Foster picked a fight with cat owners. As in, every single one of them. Just because he doesn’t like cats. As a proud owner of three felines, I took this a little personally. But Foster’s gripe with cats was hilarious nonetheless.
There doesn’t even have to be actual bad blood between two people, either. After Portland Trailblazer McCollum commented on the NBA ring-chasing epidemic in 2018, Blazer’s fan Jennifer Williams tweeted at Blazers’ guard CJ McCollum to “win a playoff game then talk.” McCollum famously responded with “I’m trying Jennifer” and after McCollum won his first playoff series in 2019, his tweet blew up. It was a fun exchange that soon became an Internet meme, then a t-shirt and even a meeting between the two.
Like with the Jennifer-McCollum debacle, there doesn’t have to be anything of substance in social media back-and-forths to make them great. Petty Twitter and Instagram wars make the fan experience more fun, elevate rivalries to new heights and can even create unlikely friendships.
March 24, 2020 — the next time the Sixers and Timberwolves meet — is already circled on my calendar. There is no doubt that Embiid and Towns will spar then, but I hope they save most of their energy for the inevitable social media confrontation, which will likely be an even dirtier matchup.