Rachel Nichols will not be essaying the role of ESPN’s sideline reporter in the NBA finals. The network published a statement on Tuesday which indicated that Ms. Nichols would not be a part of the final reporting team.
The finals that are expected to take place between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks will begin Tuesday night on ABC. The return of Nichols was anticipated just like last year, but ESPN affirmed that she would be replaced by reporter Malika Andrews.
Although Rachel Nichols has been replaced as a reporter for the NBA finals, she will still reprise her role as an anchor on “The Jump”, along with half-time host Maria Taylor, analysts Jay Williams and Jalen Rose, and reporter Adrian Wojnarowski.
The exact reason for ESPN’s decision to suspend Nichols remains unclear. However, if reports are to be believed then their choice seems to be a result of the 47-year-old reporter’s acts herself. On Monday, Rachel Nichols apologized for her unwarranted comments against Taylor on a leaked phone call.
The recording consisted of Nichols calling Taylor, who is Black, a forced-choice by the network to account for its “crappy longtime record on diversity.” Ben Cafardo, ESPN’s senior director of communications said that Nichols’ not returning as a reporter is the best decision for all involved in the finals.
The Times had published a snippet of the call, where Rachel Nichols is seen ranting about Taylor being chosen to host the 2020 NBA Finals coverage. Nichols had expected to be the primary host for the event but was instead chosen as a sideline reporter.
In light of her comments against Taylor, Nichols started “The Jump”, where she stated how “deeply sorry” she was for passing offensive comments against her co-host. Not only did she express an apology to Taylor, but also articulated her profound gratitude for being a part of such an “outstanding team.”
Additionally, the Times also noted that Nichols had been on the phone with Adam Mendelsohn, LeBron James’ adviser when she directed the comments at Taylor. The leaked audio also revealed another side of Mendelsohn, where he was seen declaring his exhaustion on the “Me Too” and “Black Lives Matter” movement.
He later addressed the video, rebuking himself for passing a “stupid, careless comment rooted in privilege.” In an email to CNBC, he clarified his statement saying that he fully and whole-heartedly supports these movements.