ESPN replaces Rachel Nichols as sideline reporter for NBA Finals following Maria Taylor comments

Rachel Nichols will not be reporting from the sidelines for ABC during the NBA Finals, ESPN announced.

Nichols, who is mired in controversy after it was reported that she claimed fellow ESPN reporter Maria Taylor was hosting last year’s NBA Finals because the network was facing pressure to be diverse, will instead continue to host “The Jump,” ESPN’s weekday show providing NBA analysis along with Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson, the network said in its release.

Malika Andrews will take over the sidelines for the NBA Finals coverage on ABC. Mike Breen is set to continue as the play-by-play commentator with analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson.

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On Monday’s episode of “The Jump,” Nichols publicly apologized to Taylor and others for her comments, saying that while she didn’t want to be the story, she also felt she needed to take the chance to address her comments.

“The first thing they teach you in journalism school is, ‘Don’t be the story.’ And I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals,” Nichols said. “But I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, 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 a part of this outstanding team.”

Perkins responded, saying that he knows Nichols is a “great person,” while also saying that Taylor is “very, very talented, hard-working” and that she “deserves every opportunity that is presented her way.”

Jefferson added that there have been “difficult conversation” and that they will continue to have those conversations.

“No one is excused,” Jefferson said. “(Nichols) is not excused. I am not excused, (Perkins). This doesn’t just go away.”

The comments from Nichols came during a phone conversation with LeBron James advisor Adam Mendelsohn and agent Rich Paul, according to a report from The New York Times, which were then uploaded into ESPN’s servers. The report stated dozens of employees came into contact with the video and that one person recorded the video on their phone and it reached executives at the company.

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in the call, according to The Times report. “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.

“I just want them to go somewhere else — it’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing.”

Taylor has not responded publicly to The Times report. Her contract with ESPN expires on July 20.

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