The tension of the upcoming NBA finals games is not just going to be felt by the players on the court. There’s a ton of controversy brewing on the sidelines as well. Most of this controversy has literally been a year in the making and is now coming home to roost. Particularly as far as ESPN anchor Rachel Nichols is concerned. Nichols who is the host of ESPN’s The Jump has been a familiar face on NBA sidelines for years. Now though she feels that she’s being removed from the gig over diversity issues.
On the eve of the NBA Finals ESPN officially announced that Malika Andrews is going to be on the court doing player interviews during and after the game. This is usually Nichols’ gig throughout the year. It’s a bit of an odd move to be pulled from your regular role in the most important part of the year for the sport.
That doesn’t mean that Nichols is going to be totally absent from the coverage. She’s going to be doing “The Jump” from the venue that the game is set to take place. No big deal right? That was until a private call Nichols had was leaked.
The Rachel Nichols Call
2014 NBA Finals logo
There was a call between Nichols and Adam Mendelsohn, LeBron James‘ political advisor, that was somehow caught on camera. In the call, Nichols who is white is complaining that she is essentially being left off some of the coverage because the network wants to promote African American anchors. She tells Mendelsohn about the inclusion of another African American anchor last year,
“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.”
The Tension Has Boiled Over To This
Even though this call happened during last year’s playoffs it was only made public by the New York Times on Sunday. According to the report, Nichols knew that a personal phone call of hers had been tapped and the tapes were in ESPN’s possession. At the time though the report indicates that she was told that no disciplinary action was to be taken against her.
Now that the conversation has been leaked the company is obviously being put under a ton of pressure!
What’s Going To Happen To Nichols
The only thing that ESPN has made clear at this point is that Nichols is not going to be on the sidelines as we’ve mentioned. In her place, as was mentioned, will be Malika Andrews an African American woman sports anchor. Just the type of person that Nichols was essentially complaining about.
Even though the news broke over the weekend Nichols was still at her regular spot on the set of “The Jump” last night. At this time it’s not clear whether ESPN will give Nichols the ax over this issue!
Talking to Jrue Holiday about the NBA Finals, the Olympics and what he thinks his team can do even if Giannis can't play in Game 1: pic.twitter.com/ZuCaXErDZF
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 6, 2021