Skip to main content

ESPN pulled Rachel Nichols off NBA Finals sideline after bombshell report

Maria-Taylor-Rachel-Nichols

During last year's Orlando bubble, Rachel Nichols was recorded making diversity remarks in connection to her colleague Maria Taylor. According to the leaked audio, the courtside reporter was seemingly annoyed that ESPN’s NBA Finals coverage in 2020 went to Taylor, a woman of color. Rachel thought ESPN’s decision was not out of merit but the pressure to increase diversity in assignments. Keep in mind the “Black Lives Matter” protests peaked while the NBA was holding its season inside the Orlando Bubble. 

“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.”

Rachel Nichols on the leaked tape

According to reports, Nichols' contract specified she was getting to host the NBA Finals Coverage. However, ESPN called the shots, and Taylor got the position. Ever since, tensions have been high at ESPN, and it reached boiling point during the Playoffs. 

How ESPN responded 

It was only now that the issue had been brought up after the NY Times published the story reporting about the conflict brewing in Bristol. ESPN seemingly shrugged off the problem, and no sanctions were given to Nichols; at least nothing was made public. When Taylor found out about the recorded call, she was frustrated, and tensions were evident in the workplace. It came to a point where Nichols and Taylor had to do recordings separately and make it appear they were doing shows together.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

ESPN threatened no live appearances by sideline reporters if Taylor "refused to interact" with Nichols, which some ESPN employees said would have unfairly punished everyone except Nichols for her to keep her position. The only person who suffered any sanctions after the recording got out was digital video producer Kayla Johnson, who was responsible for sending Maria the phone call recording. She was suspended without pay by ESPN.

No Nichols on the sidelines

Yesterday ESPN announced that Rachel Nichols wouldn't be on the sidelines during the NBA finals. The company said she would continue to host The Jump, which was also off the air on Tuesday. As the company explained it, the decision was made to "keep the focus on the NBA Finals."

In 2020, ESPN suspended Adrian Wojnarowski after the latter tweeted “F*ck You” in response to US Senator Josh Hawley. Woj was suspended indefinitely because of his actions. He has been reinstated since, but if ESPN punished their guy for being out of line, why did it take so long to make a decision about Nichols?

Well, she has a contract saying Nichols will host the Finals. The other legal issue ESPN is facing is that the recording of Nichols was made secretly and then shared through the company, which falls under invasion of privacy. I'm not a lawyer, but my money would be on Nichols if she ever wanted to take this to court. 

Nichols revealed she has reached out several times to Taylor to apologize. She also recently released a public apology. But it seems Taylor wasn't content and didn't find the apology genuine. Taylor's contract is due to expire during the Finals - whether she's on ESPN during an eventual Game 7 will tell us a lot. 

Want to stay up to date with the latest news and reactions?Download our NBA news feed for breaking news, live stats, and game coverage.

Marcus Smart fires back at rumors suggesting the Boston Celtics need to acquire a point guard this offseason

“This so-called non-point guard is the only one that’s led them to the Finals"-Marcus Smart fires back at rumors suggesting the Boston Celtics need to acquire a point guard

Smart notes that the Celtics have had true point guards on their roster before, but he was the first one to lead the teams to the Finals

How Ronny Turiaf overcame open heart surgery to get on the court for the Los Angeles Lakers

“They are gonna have to f***ing kill me” - How Ronny Turiaf overcame open heart surgery to get on the court for the Los Angeles Lakers

Turiaf’s physical showed that he needed to have open-heart surgery, and despite being told his career may be over, Turiaf battled and eventually made his way back on the court

Shawn-Kemp-min

Shawn Kemp on why he left the Sonics: 'They weren’t going to pay me $100 million'

In 1997, Shawn Kemp left the Sonics because he felt that he deserves to be paid more. He got the deal he wanted with the Cavs but he eventually lost his desire to play.

glen-rice-allan

Glen Rice lauds a Filipino basketball legend: 'He’s up there...You talk about the Larry Birds, Glen Rices, Steph Currys'

Filipino basketball legend Allan Caidic nailed 14 three-pointers in a friendly game with Glen Rice in 2010. A decade later, "G Money" was still in awe of what he had witnessed from his fellow marksman

shaq-o'neal-wilt-chamberlain-kareem-abdul-jabbar-min

"I took it to another level!"-Shaquille O'Neal thinks he was better than Wilt and Kareem

Shaq took inspiration from the great big men and passed them over, in his opinion.

Looming NBA free agency market gave Kyrie Irving a reality check
Play

Kyrie Irving had a reality check with the market

This all relates to the fundamental Kyrie Irving problem; he is unreliable, he doesn't seem fun to play with, and he has a history of bailing on teams. This was simply a reality check for the man operating outside reality.

Draymond Green calls out Skip Bayless in the latest "new media" rant

“People don’t wanna hear that old, dried up, tired stuff that you talking about” -- Draymond Green rips Skip Bayless

The idea of Draymond Green's "new media" movement is to lessen the power of the Steven A. Smiths and Skip Baylesses of the world