2019 NBA Playoffs: 76ers fine Amir Johnson for reading text messages on cell phone from bench during Game 1
Embiid said Johnson had a very valid reason for checking his phone during a game
Despite the fact that Joel Embiid ended up being able to play on Saturday afternoon, and play pretty well, the Philadelphia 76ers were routed by the upstart Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their first-round series, 111-102.
There will be plenty to talk about from the game, including the poor performances from some of the Sixers' stars, notably Ben Simmons, who finished with just nine points and seven rebounds.
However, one of the biggest talking points actually happened on the sideline. At one point during the game, the TV cameras caught Sixers big man Amir Johnson sneaking out his cell phone on the bench to read text messages while Embiid looked on. Johnson was inactive for the game, but obviously, Embiid was not.
After the game, Embiid told reporters that Johnson had a valid reason as he was checking on the status of his daughter who was "extremely sick."
ESPN's Bobby Marks pointed out that using a cell phone on the bench is not allowed, and could lead to a substantial fine or suspension as it is a violation of the NBA Operations Manual. Though given the situation with Johnson's daughter, and the fact that he was already inactive, it seems unlikely he'll face much of a punishment from the league.
Johnson was already fined by the Sixers, though, and he issued a statement apologizing for causing a distraction. Via ESPN:
"I take full responsibility and will accept the consequences of my actions," he said in a statement after not speaking with the media after the game. "I also apologize to my teammates, the 76ers organization and the fans for the distraction this has caused."
Sixers general manager Elton Brand said the team has fined Johnson for detrimental conduct. He did not disclose the amount.
That information obviously changes the dynamics of the situation. At the moment, most people were understandably either laughing or confused at the sight of two players looking at a phone while their team was getting upset in Game 1 of the Playoffs. From the outside looking in, it definitely wasn't a good look.
A family emergency clears things up and really makes a lot more sense. If any player was going to try and sneak a cell phone onto the bench for fun, an experienced veteran like Johnson doesn't seem like the player to do so. Still, as Johnson noted, his decision did cause a distraction, which isn't what the Sixers need right now.
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