ESPN’s Maria Taylor breaks silence on Rachel Nichols video drama

Maria Taylor has shared her thoughts on the swelling ESPN turmoil. 

In a weekend story from the New York Times, a leaked audio clip captured ESPN host Rachel Nichols, who is white, expressing displeasure with the network’s promotion of Taylor, who is black. Wednesday evening, Taylor took to Twitter in her first public comments directly addressing the matter. 

“During the dark times I always remember that I am in this position to open doors and light the path that others walk down,” Taylor wrote. “I’ve taken some punches but that just means I’m still in the fight. Remember to lift as you climb and always KEEP RISING.”

The leaked recording features a discussion between Nichols and Adam Mendelsohn, an adviser to LeBron James and his agent, Rich Paul, that took place last summer. 

Nichols suggests that Taylor received NBA Finals hosting duties because the network was “feeling pressure” about its “crappy longtime record on diversity.” Nichols also expressed a fear of becoming a “victim of them trying to play catch-up” with regards to equal opportunities. 

Maria Taylor; Rachel Nichols
Maria Taylor; Rachel Nichols
Getty Images

Following the leak, ESPN removed Nichols from her duties as the NBA Finals sideline reporter and canceled Tuesday’s edition of Nichols’ show, “The Jump.” Nichols began Monday’s show with a tearful apology to Taylor.

On Tuesday, Taylor appeared on the network for the first time since the leak, hosting “NBA Countdown” ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Taylor addressed sideline reporter Malika Andrews — who is filling in for Nichols — with notable enthusiasm. 

Amidst the growing controversy, ESPN faces a pivotal decision over Taylor’s future with the network. Her contract is set to expire later this month, and The Post’s Andrew Marchand reported last week that the host is seeking “Stephen A. Smith money,” which is near $8 million annually. Taylor has already turned down a new deal that would pay her almost $5 million per year, a significant raise from her current salary of $1 million. 

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