On an incredibly frustrating day, the last thing the Sixers needed was drama away from the court.
With his team getting handled by the Brooklyn Nets with 6:34 left in the fourth quarter, veteran center Amir Johnson was caught by ESPN cameras checking his cell phone. Joel Embiid was sitting next to Johnson and looked down at Johnson's phone as well.
The optics certainly weren't great as the Sixers went on to lose to the Nets, 111-102 (see observations), to go down 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.
It's not a good look for a team with championship aspirations while being down double-digits in Game 1 of the first round.
"My thought is - I learned this walking to this room - first, it's completely unacceptable," Brett Brown said. "Second, we will deal with it internally very soon. I can't comment on [a possible suspension], I only learned it walking down the hallway. I stay with those two points.
"It is not something that we are about and I really don't even know - I think all of us should just learn a little bit more about it than maybe certainly I do. But on first glance, it is not something that we are and certainly don't condone and the club will deal with it."
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Brown apparently might have been on to something.
Speaking to reporters postgame, Embiid explained his actions.
"It never happens," Embiid said when asked if it's something that happens often. "Obviously, I wasn't on my phone. I just looked down because he said that his daughter was extremely sick and he was checking on her. He was checking on his daughter. She's sick."
If Johnson's daughter is sick, that does change the narrative a bit. Still, having cell phones on the bench during a game is against NBA rules.
Both Johnson and general manager Elton Brand issued statements through the team following the game.
"I apologize for having my phone on the bench in today's game," Johnson said in his statement. "I take full responsibility and will accept the consequences of my actions. I also apologize to my teammates, the 76ers organization and the fans for the distraction this has caused."
"The 76ers organization has fined Amir Johnson for conduct detrimental to the team," Brand's statement read. "I have addressed the matter with Amir directly and he understands why his actions were unacceptable. We are moving forward together with our full focus now on Game 2."
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