ESPN has a big problem that has to do with one of their top personalities. The New York Times released a report on Sunday that revealed internal issues with Rachel Nichols and the comments she had to say about Maria Taylor. When talking to LeBron James' longtime advisor Adam Mendelsohn in July 2020, Nichols said she was upset that Taylor would be hosting NBA Countdown for the playoffs are not her. She alluded to Taylor being promoted because she is a minority.
"I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball," Nichols said in July 2020, as transcribed by Yahoo Sports. "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: “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.” pic.twitter.com/aB5MifujuX— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) July 4, 2021
Nichols said this while not knowing her camera was still on. The video was reportedly stored on one of ESPN's servers, which led to one employee recorded the audio on her phone and sending it to other people in ESPN, who sent it to more employees. ESPN never punished Nichols for the comments, but Kayla Johnson, the person who sent the video to Taylor, was suspended for two weeks without pay and was given "less desirable tasks at work." Johnson is no longer with the company.
Nichols gave statements to the Times on the situation. She said that during the call, she was "unloading to a friend about ESPN's process, not about Maria." She then added: "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." Nichols also said that she has reached out to Taylor multiple times to apologize. However, Nichols revealed that Taylor "has not responded to these offers, which is a completely fair decision I respect."
Nichols is the host of the ESPN NBA show The Jump and also does sideline reporting. Taylor is an NBA and NFL reporter as well as the host of NBA Countdown. But Taylor could be moving on from ESPN as her contract expires in just a few weeks. ESPN is working with Taylor to get a deal done, but nothing has been agreed to as of this writing.