ESPN takes Nichols off NBA Finals duty after leaked comments

NBA Finals ESPN Nichols Basketball
Posted at 5:21 PM, Jul 07, 2021

PHOENIX (AP) — ESPN has replaced Rachel Nichols as its sideline reporter for the NBA Finals following a report detailing critical comments she made about Black colleague Maria Taylor.

The network announced Tuesday that Malika Andrews would handle that role for the series between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks.

Nichols, who is white, has been the sideline reporter for its top national games this season and for last year's NBA Finals.

But the switch was made after The New York Times reported Sunday on her comments last year, when she learned Taylor would lead the network's studio show instead of her during the league's restart at Walt Disney World.

According to the Associated Press, Nichols said in a phone conversation, which was accidentally recorded and obtained by the Times, that she wishes "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 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, who apologized for the comments on Monday's "The Jump," will continue to host the show onsite during the NBA Finals.

Taylor will host the finals pregame and halftime shows.

According to The Times, Taylor's contract expires July 31, and she has reportedly rejected an extension.