Rachel Nichols Issues On-Air Apology to Maria Taylor Over Diversity Comments

In a leaked audio which was taken in July 2020, Rachel was heard venting over the fact that she would not be hosting coverage of the 2020 NBA finals and claimed that Maria got the gig on ‘NBA Countdown’ for the sake of diversity.

AceShowbiz -ESPN NBA sideline reporter Rachel Nichols apologized to her colleague Maria Taylor. Over the weekend, Rachel received backlash after she reportedly claimed that Maria was promoted to be “NBA Countdown” host just because she’s black. Now, the latter has made use of the latest episode of her show “The Jump” to address the controversy.

“So 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 or distract from a fantastic Finals,” Rachel said in the Monday, July 5 episode. “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.”

She went on to say in the episode, “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.”

In a leaked audio which was taken in July 2020, Rachel was heard venting over the fact that she would not be hosting coverage of the 2020 NBA finals. Speaking with Adam Mendelsohn, part of LeBron James‘ advising team, she claimed that she deserved Maria’s position and that Maria got the job for the sake of diversity.

“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 crappy longtime record on diversity–which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it–like, go for it,” Rachel said at the time. “Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or [by] taking my thing away.”

She continued, “I just want [ESPN] to go somewhere else–it’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing.” She also addressed overaching culture at ESPN, saying, “Those same people–who are, like, generally white conservative male [Donald Trump] voters–is part of the reason I’ve had a hard time at ESPN. I basically finally just outworked everyone for so long that they had to recognize it. I don’t want to then be a victim of them trying to play catch-up for the same damage that affected me in the first place, you know what I mean. So I’m trying to just be nice.”

During the conversation, the camera was on and it was automatically recorded and sent to ESPN serves. It didn’t take long before other employees watched the video and began sharing the audio around.

After the leaked audio hit the web, Rachel said in a statement, “[I was] unloading to a friend about ESPN’s process, not about Maria. My own intentions in that conversation, and the opinion of those in charge at ESPN, are not the sum of what matters here–if Maria felt the conversation was upsetting, then it was, and I was the cause of that for her. Maria has chosen not to respond to [my apologies], which is completely fair and a decision I respect.”

As for Adam, he stated, “I will share what I believed then and still believe to be true. Maria deserved and earned the position, and Rachel must respect it. Maria deserved it because of her work, and ESPN recognized that like many people and companies in America, they must intentionally change. Just because Maria got the job does not mean Rachel shouldn’t get paid what she deserves. Rachel and Maria should not be forced into a zero-sum game by ESPN, and Rachel needed to call them out.”

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