ESPN host and NBA sideline reporter Rachel Nichols apologized Monday on her show The Jump for making disparaging comments about her colleague Maria Taylor.
“What 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. 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,” Nichols said at the start of the show.
Rachel Nichols opening comments on Monday’s live episode of “The Jump”: pic.twitter.com/VpI826k0pp
— megan nicole (@megnturner_) July 5, 2021
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Nichols previously said in a leaked audio clip that Taylor, who is Black, was named primary host of the network’s 2020 NBA Finals coverage because of her race.
Nichols made the controversial comment while speaking to LeBron James’ public relations adviser Adam Mendelsohn and James’s agent, Rich Paul, the New York Times reported Sunday. Nichols is believed to have accidentally recorded the clip last year while her camera was connected to a company server allowing her to report live from the NBA bubble.
In the audio posted by The Times, Nichols said Taylor received the coveted NBA Countdown hosting job because ESPN was concerned about its “crappy” diversity record.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” she said “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.”
The bombshell story immediately went viral, prompting Nichols to apologize on-air.
ESPN has currently not issued an official statement on the fallout. The sports network has also not announced its official NBA hosting lineup for the NBA Finals, which will start on Tuesday between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks.