Veteran ESPN personality Rachel Nichols will not report from the sidelines during ABC's NBA Finals telecasts this year amid controversial remarks Nichols made in 2020 about NBA Countdown host Maria Taylor.
ESPN reported Monday that Malika Andrews will handle sideline reporting throughout the Milwaukee Bucks-Phoenix Suns NBA Finals series while Nichols hosts ESPN's The Jump daily NBA show. Nichols served as ABC's sideline reporter during last year’s NBA Finals that took place in the Orlando “bubble” last fall due to the pandemic.
The move comes after an explosive July 4 New York Times report in which Nichols was unknowingly taped during a phone conversation in 2020 saying that Taylor's appointment as NBA Countdown host was made to cover up the network’s “crappy” record on diversity. Taylor, who is Black, hosted the NBA Countdown pre-game and halftime program during the 2020 NBA Finals.
Nichols apologized for her remarks on ESPN’s The Jump show on Monday. The show did not air on Tuesday, but is expected to return on Wednesday, according to the New York Post.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.