NBA boss wades into Rachel Nichols ESPN scandal and says ‘it’s unfortunate women are pitted against each other’

IT’S “unfortunate” that Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor were “pitted against each other”, NBA chief Adam Silver said, as he waded into the controversy involving the ESPN sports reporters.

His remarks came after the network removed Nichols from the sidelines for the NBA finals after she was caught on a hot mic making disparaging comments about her black colleague.

Sports journalist Rachel Nichols was caught on a hot mic making disparaging comments about a black colleague[/caption]
Nichols was heard suggesting reporter Maria Taylor was only picked to host the NBA finals because ESPN was ‘feeling pressure’ about diversity[/caption]

Silver waded into the ESPN scandal moments before Game 1 of the NBA Finals between The Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, USA Today reports.

The NBA Commissioner said: “It’s particularly unfortunate that two women in the industry are pitted against each other.

“I know that both Rachel and Maria are terrific at what they do. They work extraordinarily hard.”

The network confirmed the decision to replace Nichols on Tuesday, calling it the “best decision” for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA finals.

Nichols is being replaced on the sidelines by Malika Andrews.

The controversy surrounding Nichols stems from comments she made in July 2020 about Taylor during a private conversation that was inadvertently caught on camera.

In a recording of the conversation, first released by the New York Times, Nichols is heard suggesting that Taylor was only picked to host the NBA finals coverage because ESPN was “feeling pressure” about diversity.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver praised the sports reporters’ for their work ethic[/caption]
Nichols did not realize the call was being recorded as it was streamed back to ESPN HQ in Bristol, Connecticut[/caption]

She did not realize the call was being recorded and the video was later uploaded to a server at the company’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.

Nichols said: “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball.

“If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your cr***y 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 was seeking advice from Adam Mendelsohn – a long-term advisor to LeBron James – as she believed her bosses were advancing Taylor at her expense.

Nichols publicly apologized for her behavior on Monday night[/caption]

The call was held while Nichols was in her hotel room but a camera that she appeared to forget to switch off recorded the conversation and broadcasted it back to ESPN headquarters.

It is not clear why her camera was on, but most people at ESPN believe that Nichols, using new technology during a pandemic, did not turn it off properly.

Dozens of ESPN employees have access to the company’s video servers as part of their normal workflow, the New York Times reports.

The veteran host publicly apologized for her behavior during a Monday night broadcast of The Jump.

She said: “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.

“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.”

Former NBA star Kendrick Perkins “thanked” Nichols for taking “accepting responsibility” for her actions.

Nichols initially joined ESPN in 2004 and was a regular on the network’s flagship show “SportsCenter” as well as the NFL and NBA shows.

She left ESPN for CNN in 2013, later working for TNT’S NBA broadcasts before rejoining ESPN in 2016.

Taylor, meanwhile, had primarily been seen on ESPN’s coverage of college football since joining the company in 2013. She started hosting “NBA Countdown” in 2019.

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