For five years, Rachel Nichols has been a regular on ESPN’s NBA coverage. In addition to hosting “The Jump,” Nichols could be seen reporting courtside at countless games interviewing countless players and coaches.
She was an incredible asset to ESPN, but now she is out of a job because of a comment she made over a year ago.
Nichols has been terminated from ESPN because she voiced her opinion that her colleague Maria Taylor received a promotion to host ESPN’s marquee program The Countdown for the 2020 NBA Finals simply on the merit of Taylor being black.
Nichols said, “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."
These comments were part of a conversation – which was strangely recorded - with Los Angeles Lakers forward Lebron James’ agent Rich Paul and longtime adviser Adam Mendelsohn in July of 2020.
The New York times published the comments nearly two months ago. Nichols made these comments because she thought that the job – which is one of the most prominent roles in NBA coverage - was “contractually hers.”
There are so many things wrong with his situation. First, why was the conversation recorded and why were the comments not released until one year after the conversation? If they were that offensive, why not bring them to light immediately?
Second, the comments should not have gotten her fired. Were they perhaps unfounded and motivated by jealousy? Yes. After all, Taylor had been a mainstay on ESPN’s NBA coverage for several years, reporting on a variety of athletic events beyond basketball. Plus, you don’t get to work for ESPN solely because of your skin color, you have to have some level of talent.
But could there have been an element of truth behind what Nichols said? Absolutely.
Last summer, our nation was thrown into racial upheaval because of the death of George Floyd. Shortly thereafter, businesses and sports leagues alike radically attempted to outdo one another in showing how “woke” they were or who was the most supportive of the black community.
Could ESPN – which has a long and disturbing history of promoting anti-American and left-leaning ideologies – have promoted Taylor because of her skin color to show that they were trying to elevate black voices? Most definitely.
Furthermore, when Stephen A. Smith – co-host of “First Take” – made allegedly racist comments towards Japanese-born MLB star Shohei Ohtani in July, Smith wasn’t fired from his role. Smith commented on the fact that because Ohtani can’t speak English, it makes marketing baseball harder for the MLB.
"I don't think it helps that the No. 1 face is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the h--- he's saying in this country, and that's what I'm trying to say," Smith said.
But Smith -who is black- wasn’t terminated. Instead, all he had to do was go an apology tour and he was allowed to continue to make his often ridiculous -yet equally as funny- sports takes on his show.
Maybe Nichols was on to something about ESPN’s corporate philosophy after all.