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Sports Media

Rachel Nichols opens up for the first time since leaving ESPN

Rachel Nichols
(Photo by Jim Poorten/National Basketball Association/Getty Images)

Rachel Nichols opens up for the first time since leaving ESPN

Rachel Nichols has come out for the first time and spoken publicly about the nature of her departure from ESPN. Nichols’s departure came after a leaked audio recording. The recording showed her complaining about having to give up her job hosting the NBA finals to Maria Taylor. She claimed they made the move to put an emphasis on diversity within the network.

After coming out and saying she will be working for Showtime, she made an appearance on the “All the Smoke” podcast. Former NBA players Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes host the podcast. During the podcast, Nichols gave some insight on the situation, saying,

“I thought we had put some things behind us, and unfortunately, there were still some people who had bad feelings and held on to this tape for a year,” 

Quote from Rachel Nichols Via NY Post

Nichols also said that the HR department had investigated the tape for some time. They never explicitly disciplined her for it, despite the company knowing about the tape.

“Just kept it in their pocket. And when there was a point they wanted some leverage with their own situations, they fed it to the press.”

Quote from Rachel Nichols Via NY Post

Nichols stated they asked her to step down from her role in covering the 2021 NBA finals. The job instead would go to Maria Taylor. This move came during the middle of the George Floyd/ BLM protests. This prompted Nichols to make some untasteful comments. She mentioned how Taylor was only given the job due to her race. Nichols said ESPN did it as a way to save face and attempt to show the world how diverse they truly are.

She also believed her gender had something to do with it, adding,

“Do you think ESPN would ever say to [College Gameday host] Rece Davis, ‘Hey, we want to give Maria this opportunity, you go be the sideline reporter?’ They don’t say that to men.”

Quote from Rachel Nichols Via NY Post

Soon after the tape was released, the NBA relieved Nichols of her duty covering the NBA finals. ESPN then let her go. There are no excuses for what Nichols said. It certainly wouldn’t be a good look for ESPN if people find out that they held onto the clip for over a year before punishing her.

It’s impossible to truly know for 100% certainty what happened and how long ESPN had the audio for. Logic would dictate that blame can probably be placed on both parties. Especially with the history ESPN has with mass firing workers with almost no remorse.

Nichols ended her interview on the podcast by offering her condolences to Maria Taylor, saying,

“I feel sorry that any of that touched Maria Taylor. She’s a fellow woman in the business. It’s not her fault what was going on.”

Quote from Rachel Nichols Via NY Post

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