There were no NBA games on Sunday after the Milwaukee Bucks had won Game 6 in Atlanta on Saturday night to set up an NBA Finals matchup with the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, but that didn’t mean the 4th of July came and went without quite the story emerging from the world of the NBA media.
The New York Times published a lengthy report detailing internal discord within ESPN’s NBA team over the past year stemming from comments made by Rachel Nichols about Maria Taylor getting a larger role in NBA Finals coverage because ESPN was worried about diversity, not because Taylor deserved the role. The story created a great deal of discussion, particularly about allyship and race in sports media — and also led to some folks accidentally yelling at the wrong Rachel Nichols on Twitter.
Nichols, unsurprisingly, didn’t address the story on social media, waiting until Monday for the open to The Jump to speak, briefly, about the story. In her 30 second open, Nichols apologized to Taylor and others at ESPN for disappointing them and said she deeply values her colleagues, before Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins, who were the analysts on the show that day, offered their support to Nichols.
“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. 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.”
It was a bit awkward, as one would expect, and a bit shorter than many had hoped as she didn’t address any specifics of what she said — there were also plenty of people on social media surprised that Nichols was hosting the show the day after the report was published. The show then moved on to Finals talk and that will likely be the last discussion of this situation from Nichols on TV, but it certainly won’t push it to the backburner yet in the public conscience.