There’s Drama At ESPN After Leaked Audio Shows Rachel Nichols Saying Maria Taylor Got NBA Hosting Gig Because She Was Black And Was A ‘Diversity’ Hire

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  • While inside the NBA bubble Rachel Nichols forgot to turn off her camera after filming an episode of NBA’s The Jump which led to an ESPN employee leaking the video
  • In one of the videos leaked online, Nichols was heard saying she lost the NBA Finals hosting job to Maria Taylor because ESPN was “feeling the pressure” to make a diversity hire
  • Several Black employees and on-air talent at ESPN took offense to Nichols’ comments and are angry she has not been punished by the network
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There’s some drama brewing at ESPN involving Rachel Nichols.

Last year while inside the Disney bubble, Nichols forgot to turn off her camera after filming ESPN’s “The Jump” while inside her hotel room. While the camera was turned on, Nichols was heard having private conversations venting about losing out the NBA Finals hosting gig to Maria Taylor. Someone working at ESPN leaked the audio of the Nichols complaining that Taylor only got the NBA hosting gig because she was black and the network was feeling pressure to make a “diversity” hire.

Via NY Times

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in July 2020. “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.”

According to the NY Times, the stars of NBA Countdown threatened to boycott the show because they felt Nichols had not been punished over her comments.

As the N.B.A. playoffs started in May, the stars of ESPN’s marquee basketball show, “NBA Countdown,” discussed whether they would refuse to appear on it.

They were objecting to a production edict from executives that they believed was issued to benefit a sideline reporter and fellow star, Rachel Nichols, despite comments she had made suggesting that the host of “NBA Countdown,” Maria Taylor, had gotten that job because she is Black. Nichols is white.

A preshow call with Taylor and the other commentators — Jalen Rose, Adrian Wojnarowski and Jay Williams — as well as “NBA Countdown” staff members had turned acrimonious, and Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN’s president, had several phone conversations while at a family event to try to help smooth things over.

Some of those involved saw the initial maneuvering as a sign of the network favoring Nichols despite a backdrop of criticism from employees who complained that the sports network has long mishandled problems with racism

Several black employees at ESPN were angry that video producer, Kayla Johnson, who is black, was punished for sending the video to Taylor.

Nichols spoke to the Times and she says she was just venting while having a private conversation which was unfortunately leaked by an ESPN employee. Nichols went on to say that she apologized to Taylor who has yet to accept her apology over the comments.

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 said she reached out to Taylor to apologize through texts and phone calls. “Maria has chosen not to respond to these offers, which is completely fair and a decision I respect,” Nichols said.