On Sunday, the New York Times unleashed a bombshell report involving Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor. Nichols made it abundantly clear that she wasn’t thrilled that Taylor was being promoted over her.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world. She covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said on a call with LeBron James’ longtime advisor Adam Mendelsohn. “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.”
With the NBA Finals just about to begin, ESPN had an important decision to make regarding its personnel. Due to her recent comments, Nichols has been removed from her role as a sideline reporter for the Bucks-Suns series.
“We believe this is 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.”
ESPN announces Malika Andrews will replace Rachel Nichols as sideline reporter during the NBA Finals: “We believe this is best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals. Rachel will continue to host The Jump.”
— Ben Strauss (@benjstrauss) July 6, 2021
Nichols will be replaced by Malika Andrews, who has been exceptional throughout this 2020-21 season. She did a lot of reporting on the Brooklyn Nets this year and is considered a rising star in the broadcast industry.
This decision shocked a lot of NBA fans in large part because they weren’t sure how ESPN would react to this sticky situation.
Well damn https://t.co/MvfMMvq2PH
— Ian Aywood Smh (@SuchAndSuchDJ1) July 6, 2021
Some fans, however, aren’t thrilled with ESPN’s decision.
“Seems to me like Nichols released the audio (I’m skeptical it was leaked) in order to make it clear to the public she was unhappy with with the sideline gig. And what happens? ESPN immediately caves to her stunt,” one fan wrote on Twitter.
Extremely, bad optics for ESPN here.
Seems to me like Nichols released the audio (I'm skeptical it was "leaked") in order to make it clear to the public she was unhappy with with the sideline gig.
And what happens?
ESPN immediately caves to her stunthttps://t.co/ELlZWMytTH
— Sam Sheehan (for Hire) (@SamSheehanNBA) July 6, 2021
This probably isn’t the last time we’ll hear about Nichols’ future at ESPN.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Bucks and Suns is set for tonight. Tipoff is at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.