ESPN has seen an explosive controversy made public stemming from events that occurred at last year’s championship involving Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor.
A recording of a conversation Nichols had reveals that The Jump host thought Taylor was picked to anchor Finals coverage instead of her because the network was “feeling pressure” about its “crappy longtime record on diversity” and not on merit.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in July 2020. “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.”
After being exposed, Kevin Durant made his feelings clear in a ‘like’ on Twitter that was taking aim at Nichols and how she covers the NBA.
The conversation was recorded while Nichols was in quarantine in Florida ahead of entering the NBA’s Orlando bubble at Disney World. Kevin Draper of The New York Times explained that a camera she used to continue appearing on ESPN during the quarantine period was apparently left on, with the recording getting uploaded to ESPN’s servers and discovered by someone working there.
The incident getting out confirmed to several people of color in the organization that some were saying different things about diversity privately than they were in public.