Today is the start of the 2021 NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. It’s that time of the year where NBA journalists are at their busiest. One of the reporters that has her hands full is Rachel Nichols. According to a New York Times article published on Sunday, a leaked audio conversation was published that spotlighted on ESPN.
In the conversation, Nichols was expressing frustration about Maria Taylor being selected to be the host of NBA Countdown during the 2020 NBA Finals. Additionally, she accused ESPN of selecting her just to improve their record on diversity.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world— she covers football, she covers basketball. If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity— which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it— like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else,” Nichols said in the chat with Adam Mendelsohn, advisor for Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and his agent, Rich Paul.
At the start of her show The Jump, she left a message expressing her regrets about the situation.
“So the first thing they teach you at journalism school is don’t be the story, and I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals. But I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN, how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor, and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team,” said the ESPN broadcaster.
Nichols reached out to Taylor, but the ESPN analyst didn’t comment.
UPDATE – July 6, 2021 – 12:19 pm – Nichols off NBA Finals sideline
ESPN announced that Rachel Nichols has been taken off the NBA Finals sideline and will be replaced by Malika Andrews. Nichols will continue to host The Jump.
ESPN said, “We believe this is best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals. Rachel will continue to host The Jump.”
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) July 6, 2021