NBA divided over Simmons' butt slap on Embiid
BEN Simmons' butt slap on Joel Embiid during Monday's All Stars thriller continues to divide NBA commentators.
The Aussie star was seen bounding on to the court from a courtside seat as the Team LeBron bench exploded out of their seats when an offensive foul call went their way in the second half.
With the two teams going at each other in a surprisingly heated battle, Philadelphia teammates Simmons and Embiid were spotted on several occasions going hard at each other and playing real defence.
When Embiid's Team Giannis was picked up for an offensive foul as the temperature rose in the game, Simmons leapt to his feet with the rest of his teammates and bounced on to the court straight towards his Sixers teammate.
Still juiced with energy, Simmons went right up to Embiid, whose back was turned, before winding up and giving the star centre's backside a smarting slap.
A clearly confused Embiid appeared filthy with the interaction when he realised it was his own teammate that had slapped him from out of the blue.
Some NBA commentators have declared the interaction shows the underlying hostility that exists between the two stars, while others have interpreted the butt slap as a sign of how close the pair have become at the Sixers, despite the team's struggles this NBA season.
Embiid and Simmons both laughed off the interaction on social media after the game, but NBA sleuths have again suggested it is further evidence that Philadelphia is not big enough for both of the two All Stars.
With Simmons (17 points) and Embiid (22) both enjoying impressive performances in Chicago, the pair set a franchise first for the Sixers for the team's first year with two players scoring more than 17 points in the All Star Game.
It came after the pair's chemistry and a potential trade scenario emerged as one of the biggest talking points of the All Star Weekend.
Embiid added fuel to the fire when he cheekily said in a TV interview on Monday he would make Simmons shoot a three-pointer if he got a chance to guard him in the game.
When asked about the possibility of guarding Simmons, Embiid replied: "If I guard him, I'm going to make him shoot".
"If I guard him I'm gonna make him shoot."— Chris Montano (@gswchris) February 17, 2020
Embiid has no respect for Ben Simmons' jumper lmao pic.twitter.com/PSzu7v4ahL
Trade rumours continue to swirl around the Sixers' star-studded roster while the team has failed to take any steps forward this season in a year where many experts picked them to win the Eastern Conference.
There was speculation Simmons and Embiid are frustrated playing with each other after Embiid was accused of taking a thinly veiled swipe at Simmons last month for failing to shoot enough outside shots and create the space needed for his teammates on the offensive side of the court.
"I think it is BS," Embiid said.
"Because when you look at the last two years we have been playing together, it was not a problem.
"This year it's only a problem because at times our offence has struggled and I think it's definitely going to be better after the All-Star break.
"I mean, just look at the last two years what we have been able to do and I think it can work and it's going to work."
Despite Simmons' and Embiid's comments over the All Star weekend, NBA commentators continue to be concerned that the pair can't function at an elite level on the same team.
Simmons' declaration this week that he "loved playing with" Embiid was called "BS" by ESPN commentators on Tuesday.
We give some All Star Weekend quotes from Ben Simmons and Anthony Davis the 'BS or Real Talk' treatment: pic.twitter.com/uHgDU3unBG— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 18, 2020
Lebron James' team defeated Giannis Antetokounmpo's team 157-155.