There is drama over at ESPN and it has nothing to do with NBA players or Paul Pierce partying with strippers. This time around, reporter Rachel Nichols is under fire after leaked audio revealed her unfavorable view of fellow reporter Maria Taylor.
Just days before the NBA Finals is set to air, Nichols has been axed as a sideline reporter after she was caught questioning how Taylor became a reporter, NBC News reports. The revelations were made in Sunday’s New York Times where Kevin Draper unveiled comments Nichols made privately about Taylor being picked to host the network’s 2020 NBA Finals coverage.
With last year’s finals taking place on the heels of nationwide protests against racial injustice, ESPN seemingly found it appropriate to switch things up and let Taylor cover the games instead of Nichols.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in July 2020.
“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. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
Once the controversial comments were made public, Nichols took to the airwaves to apologize on Monday.
“So the first thing they teach you in journalism school is don’t be the story. And I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals,” Nichols said at the opening of “The Jump”.
“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.”
But with the heightened public scrutiny Nichols is under, ESPN decided to remove her as the sideline reporter for the upcoming NBA Finals. The job will instead go to reporter Malika Andrews. Nichols will continue to host The Jump, and Taylor will continue her pre-game and halftime hosting.