ESPN host Rachel Nichols has recently been under a lot of fire, as many condemned the comments on colleague Maria Taylor covering the NBA Finals, which Nichols claimed was a result of ESPN's "record on diversity". It's easy to see why people would be upset with Nichols' evaluation of Taylor, as Taylor is a great analyst in her own right, regardless of her race.
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson has recently backed Rachel Nichols' comments. Jackson has recently posted on Instagram, where he commented on the situation at ESPN. Jackson's video stated that ESPN was trying to give Maria Taylor a "sympathy job".
We all ramble, we say things when we're frustrated, and Rachel did deserve that job. It's just plain and simple. I talked to Rachel, and I know a lot of things she was saying out of frustration because ESPN put her in a bad position, and they even put Maria in a position where they was trying to give Maria a sympathy job. They was trying to make themselves look good cause the Black Lives Matter and George Floyd movement was going on.
On the next episode of The Jump, Rachel Nichols issued an apology for her comments on Taylor. Her fellow analysts Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson also gave their thoughts on the situation and acknowledged her apology.
Rachel Nichols: So 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 part of this outstanding team.
Kendrick Perkins: For someone who’s known you for a long time, being around you, you have treated me with utmost respect and you always made me feel comfortable in your presence. I know your heart. Great person, great individual.
I also know Maria Taylor. She’s a great person as well, very, very talented, hardworking, and I also feel like she deserves every opportunity that’s presented in her way. My only hope is we have a commitment to support each other through this process.
Richard Jefferson: I’ve known Rachel for 20 years. Rachel and our entire group here have had some very difficult conversations over our time here, and those conversations end here, we will continue those uncomfortable conversations. No one is excused. This doesn’t just go away. We have to learn and understand and become better for each other.
After this situation, ESPN has decided to remove Rachel Nichols from Finals sideline coverage, replacing her with Malika Andrews. However, Nichols will still host The Jump.
It seems as though ESPN had decided to not let an internal situation distract from their coverage of the Finals, and there is no doubt that Malika Andrews will do a great job. It remains to be seen if there will be any additional developments as the Finals move forward.