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#pounditSaturday, September 18, 2021

Rachel Nichols-Maria Taylor leaked video reportedly causes rift at ESPN

Rachel Nichols

Rachel Nichols made some remarks about Maria Taylor last year that she was unaware were being recorded, and the comments have reportedly caused an internal rift at ESPN.

The New York Times released on audio clip on Sunday that claims to feature Nichols’ private — or so she believed — thoughts on losing out on the NBA Finals hosting gig job to Taylor last year. Nichols reportedly forgot to turn off her camera while filming “The Jump” inside her hotel room at the Walt Disney World bubble.

The clip, which you can listen to below, shows Nichols expressing frustration that ESPN gave Taylor the NBA Finals job. She suggested that the network should have instead made Taylor its NBA Finals sideline reporter over Doris Burke. Nichols said ESPN was “feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity.”

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

Nichols criticized ESPN for its track record with diversity, but she obviously felt she was more qualified for the NBA Finals hosting job than Taylor.

The clip, which was leaked by an ESPN employee, circulated behind the scenes with the network. Nichols told the New York Times she was just venting to a fellow employee and has apologized to Taylor, though she says Taylor has not yet accepted.

“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 admitted.

As for Taylor not accepting her apology, Nichols said that is “completely fair and a decision I respect.”

Other ESPN employees were also angered by Nichols’ comments and feel that ESPN has shown favoritism with Nichols. Some of the on-air talent with “NBA Countdown” reportedly considered not appearing on the show in response to the Nichols situation, though ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro was able to smooth things over.

Taylor is in the middle of a contract dispute with ESPN and reportedly turned down an offer of $5 million per year from the network. Jalen Rose showed support for her live on the air last week. You can see that video here.

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