Rachel Nichols will not work as a reporter for the NBA Finals amid tensions with network personality Maria Taylor, ESPN announced Tuesday.
Malika Andrews will replace Nichols as a side reporter during the finals, which begin Tuesday night when the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Suns in Phoenix. Sister network ABC will broadcast the game.
“We believe this is the best decision for everyone involved in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals,” ESPN said in a statement. “Rachel will continue to present ‘The Jump'”.
A New York Times story published Sunday shared videotaped comments Nichols made about Taylor a year ago. The comments came after Taylor, who is Black, was chosen as the host of the network’s “NBA Countdown” show, when the season resumed in the NBA bubble. Nichols is white and is apparently expected to fill the role.
Nichols was reportedly unaware she was being filmed when she said the following:
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world – she covers soccer, she covers basketball,” Nichols said while speaking with Adam Mendelsohn, a longtime advisor to LeBron James. “If you need to give her more to do because you feel pressured by your shitty history in diversity, which, by the way, I know personally from the feminine side, do it.
“Look for it elsewhere. You’re not going to find it or take it away from me. “
Nichols apologized to Taylor and the network on Monday’s episode of “The Jump.” Nichols has hosted that show since 2016. He returned to the network that year after working for ESPN from 2004 to 2013.
Taylor’s contract expires this month and she and ESPN are reportedly nowhere close to reaching a deal with the rising network star.
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