Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley and Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons are engaged in an ongoing feud sparked by postgame comments and settled, for now, by a scuffle that ended in the courtside seats.
Dudley was ejected Saturday from the Sixers’ 112-108 victory over the Nets in Game 4 of their first-round series. Philadelphia leads the series 3-1.
The dispute began after Game 2, when Dudley, who sat out the contest with a calf injury, told reporters, “Ben Simmons is a great player in transition, and once you get him into half court, he’s average.”
Simmons scoffed — “That’s coming from Jared Dudley. Come on.” — and paired 31 points with nine assists in Game 3. Dudley did not score and airballed a three-point attempt. Simmons reveled in that miss, so Dudley matched his celebration after swishing a three in Game 4.
Minutes after Dudley’s bucket Saturday, both players were involved in an altercation. Sixers center Joel Embiid fouled Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen as he rose to the basket midway through the third quarter. Dudley shoved Embiid after the whistle, Sixers guard Jimmy Butler pushed Dudley, and just about every player on the court spilled beyond the baseline. Simmons stepped in between Dudley and Butler, and the Nets forward pulled him backwards into the courtside seats.
Dudley and Butler were both ejected from the game, while Embiid was assessed a flagrant foul 1. It was the fourth career ejection for Dudley, who became the fourth player this season to be tossed after an incident with Embiid.
After the game, Embiid was asked about Dudley.
“First of all, he’s a nobody,” Embiid said. “And when opponents try to do stuff like that, that’s just to get us out of the game. Especially, I’m too valuable for my team. That’s why I didn’t react. I did not do anything and I did not think that was a flagrant foul because I played the ball, too. But in that type of situation I just got to stay composed and be mature.”
It was Embiid’s comments after Game 2 that prompted Saturday’s shoving match. Embiid elbowed Allen in the face during that contest, which drew a flagrant foul 1 after an officials’ review. In his postgame press conference, the Sixers center giggled as he apologized and had to regain his composure.
“OK, I’m sorry about it. It’s just me trying to being aggressive,” he continued.
Embiid admitted the next day that he should have been ejected for the elbow. Dudley noted Saturday that he certainly noticed the Sixers laughing about the play at the presser.
“For sure send a message,” he said Saturday. “When you have a guy getting flagrant fouls, Joel Embiid’s second in the league in flagrant fouls. So for that elbow he had before to just have a Flagrant 1, no fine, no nothing, laughing in the media, if you think a team I play on is going to have that, that’s another thing coming.”
Dudley was a four-year starter at Boston College before the Charlotte Bobcats selected him with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. He led the Eagle to the ACC championship game against Duke in 2005, where they were defeated by a three-pointer from current Sixers guard J.J. Redick. Boston College made the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament the following year.
The Sixers can eliminate the Nets in Game 5 on Tuesday at 8 p.m.