ESPN sits Rachel Nichols for NBA Finals on Maria Taylor’s comments

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ESPN host Rachel Nichols walks in front of the camera following the Phoenix Suns’ game against the LA Clippers in Game 5 of the 2021 NBA Playoff Western Conference Finals on June 28, 2021 at the Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.

Michael Gonzales | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

ESPN took action – a year later.

The sports channel revealed on Tuesday that it had dismissed white NBA reporter Rachel Nichols from coverage on the sidelines of the league finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns amid a fury over her suggestion the last year that her black colleague Maria Taylor got a hosting gig for the 2020 finals because of her race.

Hours later, ESPN did not air Nichols’ show “The Jump,” which was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Instead, two ESPN hosts, Jalen Rose and David Jacoby, appeared on their show, “Jalen and Jacoby”.

The ESPN measures came two days after the New York Times published an explosive report that detailed the circumstances of the comments accidentally recorded by Nichols in July 2020, and the backlash they caused within the television giant by sports cable owned by Walt Disney. Nichols was reportedly never sanctioned for his comments on Taylor during the call.

Taylor will appear on “NBA Countdown” with other ESPN reporters for pre-game and halftime coverage of the NBA Finals, ESPN said.

Malika Andrews will take care of secondary reporting in the final, the network said. Nichols handled this mission during the professional basketball playoffs.

But Nichols will appear on “The Jump” on-site from the finals games “for weekday shows,” ESPN said in its statement, hours before the network airs the show as promised on Tuesday.

The finale kicks off Tuesday night in Phoenix and will air on ABC.

“We think it is [the] best decision for everyone involved to stay focused on the NBA Finals. Rachel will continue to host The jump“the network said in a statement as it announced its lineup for coverage of the finals.

On Monday, Nichols apologized for the controversy as she opened the show of “The Jump”.

“I also don’t want to let this moment go by without saying how much I respect, how much I appreciate our colleagues here at ESPN,” Nichols said. “How deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I have injured, especially Maria Taylor, and how grateful I am to be a part of this team.”

On Sunday, The Times reported that Taylor’s colleagues in May discussed their refusal to appear on “NBA Countdown” in protest of production changes, which they said were made to benefit Nichols.

On July 13, 2020, during a phone call from his Florida hotel room, Nichols complained about Taylor getting the 2020 pre-game and post-game finals host spot from Advisor Adam Mendelsohn. longtime Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.

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This call was captured on a video feed to ESPN’s control room in Connecticut because Nichols was unaware that she had not turned off a camera transmission in her room.

In that appeal, Nichols suggested to Mendelsohn, who is white, that Taylor got the job because of his race.

“If you need to give her more to do because you feel the pressure from your long-standing record for diversity – which, by the way, I know personally on the female side – go for it. . Find it somewhere else. You’re not going to find it at my house or take my stuff, “Nichols said.

According to the Times report, Mendelsohn said shortly after on that call: “I don’t know. I’m exhausted. Between Me too and Black Lives Matter, I have nothing left.”

Nichols laughed at her remark.

A tape of the call circulated within ESPN shortly after the video was transmitted to Connecticut without Nichols’ knowledge.

Mendelsohn apologized for the comment Sunday in an email to CNBC after being asked about it.

“I made a stupid, careless comment rooted in privilege and I am sincerely sorry,” said Mendelsohn, who co-founded James More Than A Vote’s black voter advocacy group last year.

“I shouldn’t have said it or even thought it,” Mendelsohn said in an email.

“I work to support these movements and I know that the people affected by these problems are never exhausted or have nothing left. I must continue to check my privileges and work to be a better ally,” he added. .


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