Former ESPN broadcaster Rachel Nichols always seemed to have a particularly strong bond with NBA players.
Despite departing the Worldwide Leader in sports under controversial circumstances a year ago, it would appear not much has changed.
This week, photos emerged of Nichols out and partying with two Philadelphia 76ers star: James Harden and Joel Embiid.
The visuals largely speak for themselves:
Rachel Nicols chillin with Embiid and Harden pic.twitter.com/5FUVT2xjsl
— Jacob Moreno (@Jacobmorenonba) July 23, 2022
With social media being what it is, reactions to the photos poured in immediately.
Jimmy gonna see these picks and get jealous
— BBall Paul szn (@JocabM7) July 23, 2022
— Generation Ale-X (@AM_Thomas71) July 23, 2022
— Sixersplzwin (@sixersplzwin) July 23, 2022
Oh shit! She’s still alive.
— Carlos Saavedra (@H_TownEagle) July 23, 2022
They been knocking her down for years https://t.co/UqRtEJzAWn
— sebastian telfair (@JayyeTwo_Three) July 29, 2022
This still got me heated man. Legit all I’ve seen are videos of Harden partying all summer man. All we asked was for him to go Vegan and focus on getting that burst back. It’s over https://t.co/BSOE1UNp8X
— (@fanofsmallville) July 25, 2022
— MiamiClutchPE (@MiamiClutchPE) July 24, 2022
The “Jimmy Butler” references, of course, are due to the deeply salacious rumors that came out at one point of a brief romantic fling between him and Nichols. Given that she was and continues to be married, obviously they raised some eyebrows.
Ditto for her flirty video with Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker.
Nichols is a very divisive figure in general these days because of how her ESPN run ended. A controversial clip of her speaking on Maria Taylor led to a beef between the pair. Eventually, she was cancelled over it – prompting a particularly petty response to the situation from Taylor.
While some — like ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski — were deeply upset with Nichols over what transpired, others didn’t really care. In fact, she was the first person Giannis Antetokounmpo gave a gift to after winning his first ever career championship.
Interestingly enough, the line between NBA media and players often gets blurred. Just a few weeks ago, a number of stars were out partying with Taylor Rooks for her birthday. That’s just the nature of how things work nowadays.
The photos speak for themselves. https://t.co/3BSlduDEup
— Game 7 (@game7__) July 28, 2022
Nichols obviously still holds a special place in the hearts of certain NBA players, and that is unlikely to change any time soon.
What will her next chapter ultimately look like?
Time will tell.