Photo: Getty
  /  07.05.2021

Adam Mendelsohn, a white man and the longtime public relations advisor to LeBron James, said he was “exhausted” by the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements during a controversial phone call with ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols.

During the July 2020 call, which The New York Times leaked audio from this weekend, Nichols complained about ESPN’s Maria Taylor, who is Black, earning NBA Finals hosting duties last year. Mendelsohn suggested that Nichols “frame” the situation as ESPN pitting two female reporters against each other for the job and Nichols claimed hosting duties were “in my contract in writing.”

“I don’t know. I’m exhausted,” Mendelsohn said after a pause, per NYT. “Between Me Too and Black Lives Matter, I got nothing left.”

The outlet reports that Nichols laughed in response. In an email statement to CNBC, Mendelsohn apologized for the comment.

“I made a stupid, careless comment rooted in privilege and I am sincerely sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have said it or even thought it. I work to support these movements and know that the people affected by these issues never get to be exhausted or have nothing left. I have to continue to check my privilege and work to be a better ally.”

Besides being an advisor to James for more than a decade, Mendelsohn also co-founded the NBA star’s More Than A Vote organization last year. The initiative was “launched amid the Black Lives Matter protests following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” its website states, adding, “Our goal [is] energizing, educating, and protecting Black voters.”

The conversation between Nichols and Mendelsohn is the same phone call where Nichols accused Taylor of only receiving the NBA Finals hosting job as part of the network’s “diversity” push. As reported by REVOLT, the reporter told Mendelsohn: “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball. 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.”

According to NYT, several of ESPN’s Black employees said the leaked phone call “confirmed their suspicions that outwardly supportive white people talk differently behind closed doors.”


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