Rachel Nichols has long been recognized as one of the faces of ESPN’s NBA coverage.
Maria Taylor has emerged over the past few years as one of the Worldwide Leader’s brightest stars.
Unfortunately, a newly uncovered video involving the two women may force a reckoning that ESPN is ill-prepared to deal with.
According to Kevin Draper of the New York Times, when NBA the playoffs began this past May, “the stars of ESPN’s marquee basketball show, ‘NBA Countdown,’ discussed whether they would refuse to appear on it.”
Why would they boycott the show?
“They were objecting to a production edict from executives that they believed was issued to benefit a sideline reporter and fellow star, Rachel Nichols, despite comments she had made suggesting that the host of ‘NBA Countdown,’ Maria Taylor, had gotten that job because she is Black. Nichols is white,” the report noted.
Apparently this has been a story that had quietly been unraveling for months. You will recall, last year there was a whole brouhaha over Nichols being recorded without her consent. Most came to her defense, and the recording never went public.
That all changed this week.
The root of the issue, it appears, is that in a call made on July 13, 2020 Nichols had a conversation with Adam Mendelsohn, the longtime adviser of the Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and James’s agent Rich Paul, about how she felt like Taylor was advancing at ESPN at her expense. She insisted that she believed ESPN was “feeling pressure” about racial diversity and making moves in reaction to that.
What Nichols didn’t realize at the time, however, was that she was being recorded while having he conversation.
According to Draper, “dozens of ESPN employees have access to the company’s video servers as part of their normal work flow. At least one of these people watched the video on the server, recorded it on a cellphone and shared it with others. Soon, more copies of the conversation were spreading around ESPN.”
Now the situation has reached the fallout stage.
Taylor’s ESPN contract is set to expire, and she is reportedly demanding Stephan A. Smith money – significantly more than the network is willing to pay.
How will this leak impact that? Time will tell.
Nichols, meanwhile, is suffering just her latest indignity in recent months. Between her offensive Tim Duncan interview and the Kwame Brown drama she participated in, it has just been one issue after another.
According to the New York Times, “Nichols said she reached out to Taylor to apologize through texts and phone calls.”
Well that settles that. https://t.co/s4NxQP2MHr
— Game 7 (@game7__) July 3, 2021
However, it appears Taylor has opted to ignore Nichols’ overtures.
How will this disastrous situation ultimately end? Time will tell.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.