Even a groveling apology couldn’t save Rachel Nichols. 

Two days after The New York Times printed a story regarding a leaked video with Nichols claiming that colleague Maria Taylor took her job due to “diversity,” Nichols has lost another gig at ESPN. 

ESPN announced on Tuesday that Nichols will not be a sideline reporter for the upcoming NBA Finals, though she will continue to be the host of the NBA show “The Jump.” 

“We believe this is the best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals,” ESPN said in a statement. “Rachel will continue to host The Jump.”

Nichols has been embroiled in controversy over the past year at ESPN, though it was first made public on July 4 in an article by The New York Times. 

In July 2020, Nichols had a conversation with longtime LeBron James advisor Adam Mendelsohn, where she expressed her frustration for losing out on the assignment of hosting ESPN’s pregame and postgame coverage of the NBA Finals. The call occurred in Nichols’ hotel room in Florida, but was unwittingly recorded by a camera — one that she used for her job but forgot to turn off — and was sent to ESPN servers in Bristol, Connecticut. 

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said on July 13, 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.”

“I just want them to go somewhere else — it’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing.” 

The recording of the video was seen and recorded to the phone of an ESPN employee and made its way around the company. Nichols was not punished, much to the chagrin of many employees who felt that Nichols comments were “a common criticism used by white workers in many workplaces to disparage nonwhite colleagues — that Taylor was offered the hosting job only because of her race, not because she was the best person for the job,” per NYT.

After the recording became public, Nichols issued an apology on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Monday. 

“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. “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 a part of this outstanding team.”

 

“I fully support Maria Taylor,” NBA analyst Richard Jefferson said about Nichols’ apology. “I’ve worked with her since I joined ESPN at ‘Get Up’ and ‘Countdown.’ I’ve known Rachel for 20 years. Rachel and our entire group here have had some very difficult conversations over this time period. And those conversations don’t end here. We will continue to have uncomfortable conversations. No one is excused. She is not excused, I am not excused, Perk [Kendrick Perkins] … This doesn’t just go away. But we have to learn and understand and become better for each other. And really through our actions more than anything.”

Malika Andrews will take over duties as ESPN’s NBA Finals sideline reporter.

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