ESPN takes Nichols off NBA Finals duty after leaked comments

Sports

FILE – A sign marking the entrance to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., is seen in this Wednesday, June 3, 2020, file photo. Sports media giant ESPN announced Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, that it is cutting about 500 jobs from its global workforce and laying off about 300 employees. The company said the cuts are due in large part to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business and the “tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports.” (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — ESPN has replaced Rachel Nichols as its sideline reporter for the NBA Finals following a report detailing critical comments she made about Black colleague Maria Taylor.

The network announced Tuesday that Malika Andrews would handle that role for the series between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks.

Nichols has been the sideline reporter for its top national games this season and for last year’s NBA Finals. But the switch was made after the New York Times reported Sunday on her comments last year, when she learned Taylor would lead the network’s studio show instead of her during the league’s restart at Walt Disney World.

In a phone conversation that was accidentally recorded and the Times obtained, Nichols said: “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball. 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.”

The Times’ report said the show’s crew was angry with Nichols, who apologized Monday while hosting “The Jump.”

Nichols will continue to host that daily weekday basketball show onsite during the finals.

Taylor will again host the NBA Finals pregame and halftime shows, though the New York Post reported that her contract ends later this month and she had rejected an extension.

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