ESPN host Maria Taylor recently wrote on Twitter that she’s “still in the fight” as her colleague Rachel Nichols made headlines this week over a hot mic scandal, which further fueled longstanding racial issues at the network.
Nichols, who is white, was embroiled in controversy this week after The New York Times published a damning report on Sunday revealing comments she made about Taylor, who is Black, when she accidentally recorded herself in a July 2020 phone conversation with Adam Mendelsohn, a longtime adviser to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
During that conversation, Nichols suggested that ESPN selected Taylor to host the 2020 NBA Finals pregame and postgame shows ― a job she sought out herself ― because of her race. The footage went to a server at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, where it was recorded and passed around by ESPN employees.
“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 tweeted Wednesday. “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.”
Taylor, who hosts “NBA Countdown,” has pressed the network over its handling of race issues before. She received wide support on social media this week after Nichols’ recording was revealed, with many people slamming the conversation as conveying a common racist trope that Black professionals don’t earn their positions in workplaces.
Nichols, host of ESPN’s “The Jump,” suggested in the 2020 call that Taylor was selected to host the NBA finals coverage last year because ESPN felt pressured to address its diversity problems.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said, according to the recording obtained by the Times. “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 was removed from the NBA Finals sideline coverage amid the controversy, ESPN announced on Tuesday before the finals between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks began. The network added that she will remain as a host on “The Jump.”
“The Jump” host issued an apology during Monday’s episode. ESPN did not air Tuesday’s episode of the show, but Nichols returned to the air on Wednesday.
Taylor, meanwhile, has reportedly been in the midst of negotiating her contract, which expires with ESPN later this month.
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