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“If Rachel telling her truth on my show was going to cost me my job there, I would have taken that” - Matt Barnes confesses he risked his job at ESPN for Rachel Nichols

Matt Barnes recently revealed he risked it all for Rachel Nichols to speak her truth about her firing from ESPN.
Former NBA player Matt Barnes (left); TNT sideline TV reporter Rachel Nichols (right)

Matt Barnes and Rachel Nichols

Former NBA guard Matt Barnes recently spoke about the firing of long-time ESPN host Rachel Nichols.

Learning the ropes

Barnes built a relationship with Nichols while he was transitioning from his playing career to journalism, as she took him under his wing and showed him what it took to succeed in front of the camera.

To the shock of the NBA community, Nichols was suddenly let go by the network in 2020, and Barnes recently confessed he risked his job in order for her to tell her truth about what transpired leading to her exit.

"I had a lot of love for Rachel. But you know what was crazy was I had to talk to some ESPN people after she left. I felt like if Rachel telling her truth on my show was going to cost me my job there, I would have took that.

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"Because that's how dope she was, how opening she was, how important an instrumental she was to me and Stack in particular, but guys like T-Mac, Paul all these people that she really showed us the ropes on that on The Jump show. So once I found out what really happened I felt like I had to let my sister talk and it was gonna cost me money because a lot of people wouldn't do that. To me her truth is important because she's a good person," he said.

The admiration never wavered

It's clear that Barnes holds a great deal of respect and admiration for Nichols and her work, and he is disappointed that he doesn't get the opportunity to work alongside her.

Barnes joined a long list of former NBA players that made the transition to the media following their retirement, and Nichols was a pillar of support for them also, as they took turns in making waves at ESPN. Because of her support, they succeeded, and now the likes of Barnes have been fortunate enough to build a solid reputation in the NBA media.

It's hard not to respect Barnes despite that despite the cost, he would have been willing to sacrifice his own job, even had he known that her speaking out would result in his dismissal. To his credit, Barnes has never shied away from telling and seeking the truth both on and off the floor.

A return to the fold

Since being let go from ESPN Nichols has remained close to the game, but never landed a notable role in the media until recently - when she joined Showtime Sports in September 2022.

She now has the opportunity to again cover the game she loves, and it will no doubt sit well with NBA fans and former players that were lucky enough to call her their colleague for many years. 

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