UPDATED 7/6 12:12 p.m. ET: ESPN announced that it’s taking Rachel Nichols off the NBA Finals sideline. She’ll be replaced by Malika Andrews.
According to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, Nichols will continue to host The Jump.
“We believe this is best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals. Rachel will continue to host The Jump,” ESPN said in a statement.
See original story below.
After the New York Times shared leaked audio of ESPN’s Rachel Nichols saying her coworker Maria Taylor got a 2020 NBA Finals gig because the network was “feeling pressure” about its “crappy longtime record on diversity,” the host has issued an apology on air.
Nichols addressed the audio during her opening comments on ESPN’s “The Jump,” saying in a 30-second statement that while she didn’t want to “distract from a fantastic finals,” she was “deeply, deeply sorry.”
”I also didn’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect and how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN, how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt—particularly Maria Taylor—, and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team,” she said, pointing at her co-hosts.
Co-host Kendrick Perkins then said that Nichols had a “great heart” and that Taylor is “hard-working” and “deserves every opportunity that is presented her way.” Richard Jefferson also said the team on set has had some “difficult conversations during this time period.”
“Those conversations don’t end here,” Jefferson said. “We will continue to have uncomfortable conversations. No one is excused. She is not excused, I am not excused, Perk… This doesn’t just go away. But we have to learn and understand it and become better for each other. And really through our actions more than anything. And that is our responsibility.
Nichols’s remarks that made the rounds internally, and were eventually published by the NYT, were recorded last year during the NBA Playoffs by an ESPN camera. Nichols was not punished by the network, and the only person reprimanded was reportedly a Black staff member who sent the video to Taylor.
Taylor has not yet commented on the situation.
Despite her apology, some people weren’t satisfied, especially when it came to the brevity of her words. Check out some notable reactions to Nichols’ apology below.