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Reporter Removed from NBA Coverage Following Hot Mic Scandal

Veteran ESPN on-air talent Rachel Nichols was planning to work as a sideline reporter during the 2021 NBA Finals. Instead, she was replaced by another reporter, Malika Andrews. Nichols was sidelined by ESPN because of some comments she made during 2020’s NBA Finals. She was on a phone call but was accidentally recorded by a camera in her hotel room which was later uploaded to ESPN’s servers without her knowledge. In the footage, she is heard speaking disparagingly about another coworker, Maria Taylor (who is now with NBC Sports), implying that Taylor was chosen to cover the NBA Finals because she is Black.

Nichols, who is white, was heard saying the following:

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.

Once the footage was discovered by another ESPN employee, it had been distributed internally for months until it was leaked to The New York Times for a report in early July. On ESPN’s “The Jump,” she made a special effort to address the controversy:

[I didn’t] want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN. (And) 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.

Kendrick Perkins, a Black former-NBA-player costars on “The Jump,” seemed to accept her apology, and thanked her for “accepting responsibility” for her error in judgment.

Possible Preaching Angle:

If we speak haphazardly about others in our community, we risk sowing confusion and dissension. Words spoken in private still have tremendous power, and more so when they are revealed in public.

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