Some sports fans follow every move on the court and some of us follow along the sidelines. ESPN recently announced that Malika Andrews will replace Rachel Nichols at the NBA Finals
amid reports of internal strife following a leaked video in which Nichols questioned Taylor’s
credentials. ESPN decided to go ahead and make this change so that people would not get
distracted by the drama. The focus is on the NBA Finals and the network wants to strongly keep
it that way. As you well know, Rachel Nichols covered last year’s Finals in the “bubble” during the global pandemic but will have to step aside this year. She replaced Doris Burke last year after Burke had spent 11 years covering the Finals from the sideline.
Nichols will remain the host on the NBA’s “The Jump” as she opened up the show on Monday apologizing on the comments she said. “So, the first thing they teach you in journalism school is don’t be the story. And I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals,” Nichols said.
Maria Taylor has been covering college football games for years, starting working with the
NBA’s countdown show in 2019. She hosts the show with Jalen Rose and Jay Williams as they
will present halftime on ESPN during the finals. The decision to have Andrews be the sideline reporter instead was made after The New York Times reported that Nichols, who is white, made disparaging comments about a Black colleague, Maria Taylor, last year. Among other things, Nichols said that Taylor was picked to host N.B.A. finals coverage last season because ESPN was “feeling pressure” about diversity. The comments were accidentally caught on camera and were uploaded at the company’s
headquarters in Bristol, then spread widely among ESPN employees. Nichols said that she was
deeply sorry and wanted to apologize to Taylor about the situation.