ESPN removes Rachel Nichols from NBA coverage after 'racist' comment saying black colleague was hired for 'diversity'
SPORTS journalist Rachel Nichols has been pulled from ESPN's NBA coverage after she was caught on a hot mic making disparaging comments about her black colleague.
Last July, the reporter alleged Maria Taylor was selected to host the basketball finals because ESPN bosses were "feeling pressure" about "diversity".
Nichols has been axed from ESPN's NBA coverage and bosses have canceled her show The Jump, Sports Business Journal reported.
David Roberts, the company’s senior vice president of production, said both parties "mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned."
He branded Nichols an "excellent journalist" and thanked her for her contribution to the network, CNN reports.
Nichols, who has more than a year remaining on her contact, thanked her production crew who worked with her on The Jump.
She tweeted Wednesday: "Got to create a whole show and spend five years hanging out with some of my favorite people, talking about one my favorite things.
"An eternal thank you to our amazing producers & crew — The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun."
The controversy surrounding Nichols stemmed from comments she made in July 2020 about Taylor during a private conversation that was inadvertently caught on camera.
In the footage, first released by the New York Times, Nichols was heard suggesting that Taylor was only picked to host the NBA finals coverage because ESPN was "feeling pressure" about diversity.
She did not realize the call was being recorded and the video was later uploaded to a server at the company's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.
Nichols said: "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 cr***y 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 was seeking advice from Adam Mendelsohn – a long-term advisor to LeBron James – as she believed her bosses were advancing Taylor at her expense.
It's not clear why her camera was on but people at ESPN believe Nichols, who was using new technology during a pandemic, did not turn it off properly.
She apologized for her behavior during an episode of The Jump in June.
Nichols said at the time: "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.
"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, 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."
Maria Taylor has since left ESPN and has joined NBC as a sports broadcaster.
She made a surprise debut at the opening ceremony of the delayed Tokyo Olympics just days after leaving the sports network.
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