Rachel Nichols is a star at ESPN, so is her fellow female anchor Maria Taylor. Both are featured players on the show NBA Countdown. But apparently, Nichols thinks she should be in Taylor’s hosting seat and not on the sideline.
According to the NY Times, for the past year, ESPN executives have been trying to negotiate a new deal with Taylor all while trying to keep comments by Nichols on the low.
Nichols, in a 2020 phone interview, said she wanted the NBA Countdown hosting role and felt naming Taylor to the spot was a reaction to a, “crappy longtime record on diversity.”
The full quote, “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.”
ESPN is under a lot of pressure because Taylor’s contract ends within the next week. The NBA Finals, in which she is the main studio host, is also about to start up. The question is, will Taylor leave midway through the Finals if her contract remains unresolved.
Taylor is also a College Football reporter and appears on College GameDay when the NBA season isn’t in full swing. She is seeking a contract north of $6 million per year. A year ago, ESPN offered her $5 million according to reports. An offer she turned down. The network has been since lowballing her around $3-4 million per year.
The video was from a hot mic incident as Nichols consorted with LeBron James agent Ben Mendelsohn. Nichols was apparently on the call but had accidentally turned the video on. That video was being recorded on ESPN servers back in Bristol. It quickly made the rounds.
Nichols was speaking to Mendelsohn about interviewing James and his teammate Anthony Davis prior to the 2020 NBA playoffs in Orlando. Those conversations turned to Taylor, the position, and the work environment at ESPN.
At one point, Nichols decried the executives at ESPN saying, “Those same people — who are, like, generally white conservative male Trump voters — is part of the reason I’ve had a hard time at ESPN.”
Nichols has admitted to the comments but has said she was “unloading” her frustrations to a friend. That her anger was not at Taylor, but instead at the ESPN executives who have forced the two into a difficult situation.
Taylor has not commented on the story.
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