Hours before Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals, ESPN announced its decision on how it will use Rachel Nichols during the event.
The network revealed that Nichols will not serve as the sideline reporter for Finals coverage, relinquishing those duties to Malika Andrews. The decision comes in the wake of the ongoing controversy stemming from Nichols’ July 2020 comments about colleague Maria Taylor, which were accidentally recorded and later circulated at ESPN and leaked to the New York Times.
Nichols will continue to host “The Jump” on-site at the NBA Finals on weekdays.
“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,” ESPN said in a statement.
ESPN has taken Rachel Nichols off the NBA Finals sideline, the network announced.
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) July 6, 2021
ESPN announces that Malika Andrews is taking the place of Rachel Nichols as sideline reporter for the NBA Finals.
Nichols remains the host of "The Jump," which will be on site at the NBA Finals on weekdays.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 6, 2021
In her remarks from last summer, Nichols expressed her irritation with being replaced on NBA Finals coverage by Taylor, who is Black.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols 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.”
Nichols addressed her controversial comments on “The Jump” Monday afternoon.
“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 the (NBA) Finals,” she 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, [and] how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor, and for how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team.”