Rachel Nichols, who was anticipated to be ABC’s sideline reporter for the N.B.A. finals, is not going to work that position when the primary sport of the collection ideas off Tuesday night time, ESPN introduced. She shall be changed by Malika Andrews.
Nichols was the sideline reporter for the finals final yr and through ESPN’s most essential N.B.A. video games this season. Both ABC and ESPN are owned by Disney.
The resolution to have Andrews be the sideline reporter as an alternative was made after The New York Times reported that Nichols, who’s white, made disparaging feedback a couple of Black colleague, Maria Taylor, final yr. Among different issues, Nichols mentioned that Taylor was picked to host N.B.A. finals protection final season as a result of ESPN was “feeling pressure” about variety.
The feedback had been unintentionally captured on digital camera and uploaded to a server on the firm’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn., then unfold broadly amongst ESPN staff.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols mentioned 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.”
Nichols will host episodes of “The Jump” on-site all through the finals. Nichols has hosted that present, ESPN’s day by day N.B.A. present, since 2016.
Nichols commented publicly on the recording and what she mentioned about Taylor for the primary time on Monday’s episode of “The Jump.”
She saved her feedback temporary, saying she didn’t wish to distract from the crescendo to the N.B.A. season. But Nichols added that she didn’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.”
She was joined on the present by Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson, two Black former N.B.A. gamers who’re regulars on “The Jump.” Perkins thanked Nichols for “accepting responsibility” and added that he is aware of her coronary heart and that she is a “great person, great individual.” He mentioned Taylor was an excellent individual as effectively.
Taylor will host episodes of “NBA Countdown,” ESPN’s pregame and halftime present, throughout the finals. But if the finals, between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks, go to a seventh sport, ESPN may have a dilemma to resolve. Taylor’s contract with ESPN expires close to the top of the finals, and to this point the 2 sides will not be shut on a renewal.