Rachel Nichols Out for NBA Finals Coverage on ABC. The sideline reporter on ABC’s broadcast of the NBA finals on Tuesday night was Malika Andrews, an abrupt change announced by ESP. ESPN announced that Rachel Nichols will not be reporting from the sidelines for ABC during the NBA Finals. It was a try to hold back a yearlong scandal that has come into public view about the company’s handling of conflicts centered around race.
Nichols was the sideline reporter for last year’s Finals and also during ESPN’s other important NBA games this season. ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney. “We believe it is the best decision for all concerned to focus on the NBA Finals,” ESPN said in a statement.
She will be replaced by Malika Andrews. The decision to make Andrews a sideline reporter instead was made after The New York Times reported that Nichols, made derogatory remarks about a black colleague, Maria Taylor, last year. Nichols, who is stalled in controversy after it was reported that she claimed fellow ESPN reporter Maria Taylor was hosting last year’s NBA Finals because the network was facing pressure to be diverse.
The controversial comments from Nichols came during a phone call with LeBron James advisor Adam Mendelsohn and agent Rich Paul, according to a report from The New York Times, which were then uploaded into ESPN’s servers. It is reported that dozens of employees came into contact with the video and one of the employees recorded the video on his phone and it reached executives at the company.
In the call to The Times report, she said, “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball.” She also said that “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 hosted an episode of “The Jump” on Monday. But although “The Jump” was listed on the television schedule to air on ESPN 2 at 4 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, the show “Jallen & Jacoby” aired instead. Josh Krulewitz, an ESPN spokesman, did not respond to a request for comment about why the show did not air.
On Monday’s episode of “The Jump,” Nichols publicly apologized to Taylor and others for her comments. She said that while she didn’t want to be the story, she also felt she needed to take the chance to address her comments.
“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.”
Two former NBA players, Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson, who are regulars on “The Jump” joined Monday’s show. Perkins thanked Nichols for “accepting the responsibility” and said that he knew her heart and that he was a “great person, a great man”. He also praised Taylor.
Taylor has not responded publicly to The Times report. “I just want them to go somewhere else — it’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing.” Her contract with ESPN expires on July 20.
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