ESPN has decided to replace longtime TV personally Rachel Nichols with Malika Andrews, making Andrews the new sideline reporter for the 2021 NBA Finals.
Nichols’ audio during a private conversation with Adam Mendelsohn was made public and with the following reported by the New York Times:
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in July 2020. “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 has reportedly tried reaching out to Taylor to apologize through texts and phone calls, but Taylor hasn’t responded to her, which Nichols said is “completely fair and a decision I respect,” per The New York Times.
Taylor reportedly felt upset about those comments, as she briefly decided to not finish covering the NBA season until she reconsidered under one condition – that she doesn’t appear on any shows with Nichols.
“I will not call myself a victim, but I certainly have felt victimized and I do not feel as though my complaints have been taken seriously,” Taylor wrote in an email to ESPN executives (via The New York Times). “In fact, the first time I have heard from HR after 2 incidents of racial insensitivity was to ask if I leaked Rachel’s tape to the media. I would never do that.”
ESPN canceled Nichols’ appearance on “The Jump” on the day of this article being published, as Nichols is the primary host of the show that regularly features former basketball players Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins. She is, however, expected to remain in that position and in the future, according to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.
As for Taylor, her contract with ESPN expires in the next three weeks, and given this drama and a disconnect in current negotiations on a new contract, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the rising media superstar take her talents elsewhere.