Rachel Nichols Lands at Showtime, Talks ESPN Exit

Nearly a year after ESPN pulled Rachel Nichols off the air, the longtime NBA reporter has a new job at Showtime, where she’ll work as a host and reporter on everything from podcasts to online documentaries. going through a new monthly issue.

Last summer, Nichols was removed from ESPN’s NBA coverage after the New York Times released a leaked audio recording of Nicholswho is white, is complaining about a job he was asked to hand over to fellow NBA host Maria Taylor, who is black.

Nichols, in a phone call she didn’t know was being recorded, suggested that if ESPN wanted to improve its diversity record, the network shouldn’t do it by giving away Taylor Nichols’ guaranteed contract work. as host of the NBA Finals.

Rachel Nichols is back on the air, but the ESPN fallout is just beginning

In his first Showtime appearance on Friday, Nichols joined the video podcast, “All the Smoke,” featuring former NBA players Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes, and offered his version of the events that led up publicly for the first time. when he left ESPN. She suggested her recording had been strategically leaked and said much of the frustration she wanted to express in the leaked call stemmed from the struggles of being a woman in the business. sports media.

“I’m sorry this all affected Maria Taylor,” Nichols said. “She’s another woman in the business. It’s not his fault what happened.

She added that human resources investigated the tape and found that she did not need discipline. “I thought we put things behind us, and unfortunately there were still people who had bad feelings and kept that tape for a year,” she said. “I just kept it in their pocket. And when there was a point where they wanted leverage with their own situations, they passed it on to the press.

ESPN declined to comment.

The saga began, Nichols explained, in 2019 when she received a new contract that guaranteed her hosting duties for the NBA Finals. A year later, as race protests swept the country, ESPN asked her to give up what she called a “dream job” for Taylor.

Nichols thought ESPN was asking a woman to address a diversity issue and wouldn’t have asked its main college football host, a man, to step down for Taylor in the same way. “Do you think ESPN would ever say to Rece Davis, ‘Hey, we want to give Maria this opportunity; are you going to be the sideline reporter?’” Nichols said on the podcast. “They don’t say that to men.

The recording was made from Nichols’ hotel room in Orlando during the 2020 NBA bubble. She said the camera inadvertently rolled in her hotel room for hours and someone ESPN had used a cellphone to record the video of her and then circulated it. ESPN.

Nichols said she tried to call, text and arrange a meeting with Taylor to apologize, but Taylor was not interested. After the tape was released last year, Nichols was pulled from NBA Finals coverage, and later that summer she was pulled from the network airwaves.

Taylor also left ESPN and now works for NBC.

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