‘The Jump’ Host Rachel Nichols Apologizes to ESPN’s Maria Taylor Over Comments
ESPN host Rachel Nichols made a public apology at the top of her NBA show, The Jump, on Monday, July 5, following controversial comments published in a New York Times report.
Nichols fell into the spotlight after the Times published disparaging comments from a leaked phone conversation between the host and Adam Mendelsohn, an adviser to LeBron James. In the audio clip, Nichols, who is white, airs her frustration with ESPN for giving last year’s NBA Finals hosting duties to fellow host and analyst Maria Taylor, who is Black.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in the phone call. “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.”
She continued: “Those same people — who are, like, generally white conservative male Trump voters — is part of the reason I’ve had a hard time at ESPN. I basically finally just outworked everyone for so long that they had to recognize it. I don’t want to then be a victim of them trying to play catch-up for the same damage that affected me in the first place, you know what I mean. So I’m trying to just be nice.”
Nichols, who said that she was expressing her frustrations with the network rather than Taylor, opened Monday’s episode of The Jump with an apologetic statement.
Rachel Nichols opening comments on Monday’s live episode of “The Jump”: pic.twitter.com/VpI826k0pp
— Meg Turner (@megnturner_) July 5, 2021
“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,” she said. “But I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, 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.”
Former NBA players and regular Jump guests Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson backed up their colleague. Perkins thanked Nichols for “taking responsibility for your actions” and stated, “I know your heart, great person, great individual.” Meanwhile, Jefferson added, “Rachel and our entire group here have had some very difficult conversations over this time period, and those conversations don’t end here. We will continue to have uncomfortable conversations. No one is excused.”