ESPN’s Malika Andrews will handle sideline reporting duties for the NBA Finals this year instead of Rachel Nichols, Front Office Sports tweeted on Tuesday (July 6). The news arrives after Nichols’ disparaging remarks about her co-worker, Maria Taylor, went viral earlier this week.
According to Front Office Sports, ESPN made the switch from Nichols to Andrews to keep the focus on basketball rather than the ongoing controversy.
“We believe this is [the] best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals,” the network reportedly said. However, Nichols will continue to host ESPN’s show, “The Jump.”
As reported by REVOLT, an audio clip from a July 2020 phone call between Nichols and LeBron James’ spokesperson Adam Mendelsohn was leaked on Sunday (July 4) by The New York Times. During the call, Nichols complained about Taylor earning NBA Finals hosting duties over her last year. The journalist claimed that Taylor, who is Black, only received the job because ESPN was feeling pressured about its “crappy longtime record on diversity.”
“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,” she said during the call. “Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
Nichols has since received significant backlash for the remarks and apologized during Monday’s (July 5) episode of “The Jump.”
“I also didn’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect and how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN, how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt— particularly Maria Taylor— and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team,” she said on TV.
Taylor will reportedly host the “NBA Countdown.” See Front Office Sports’ tweet below.
ESPN has announced that Malika Andrews will replace Rachel Nichols as sideline reporter during the NBA Finals.— Front Office Sports (@FOS) July 6, 2021
"We believe this is best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals. Rachel will continue to host The Jump." pic.twitter.com/TE8M8aqem6