Over the weekend, a bombshell New York Times report revealed that ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols questioned her network’s decision to promote Maria Taylor, who took over as the host of the NBA Finals that summer. Leaked audio of The Jump host complaining about the company’s decision to make the change have made the rounds through the sports media world since the story came out on Sunday.
Amin Elhassan and Jemele Hill joined The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on Tuesday to have a conversation about the latest story involving Nichols, as well as to discuss some of the other dynamics at play at ESPN. All three of the hosts worked for the Worldwide Leader in the past, so were able to give some insight and nuance to the recent happenings.
Elhassan took some time out of the segment to comment on a quote attributed to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski in the New York Times story. In the piece, Wojnarowski called Nichols a “bad teammate.”
However, Elhassan had a serious objection to that comment and called out the well-known news breaker for the remark.
“Are you [expletives] me? This guy is going to call someone a bad teammate? For real? For real? Do we want to talk about the black careers that he put a foot on because he was threatened by? Do we want to talk about that? Do you wanna talk about the newsbreakers – with an ’S’ – of diverse background, who have rapports with players that Adrian doesn’t have. That he saw as threatening because his sources are all front office people… and assistant coaches trying to move up… and maybe a video coordinator that’s trying to get a better job somewhere else,” Elhassan said.
“But he can’t talk to LeBron. And he can’t talk to Chris Paul or Damian Lillard or some of these other guys. He doesn’t have that rapport with them. So what he does is he steps on them. And beyond that particular angle, he steps on a lot of people over there. He steps on a lot of people over there. Right? When you see a byline that says ‘as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski and fill-in-the-blank.’ That’s the old, ‘yeah, put my name on it and put it out there.’”
The entire 50-minute segment between the former ESPN colleagues is certainly worth the watch.
In the fallout of the New York Times story, Nichols has been removed from the ESPN broadcast team from the NBA Finals. Malika Andrews will handle the sideline reporting duties, while Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy remain in the booth.
Nichols briefly apologized for her comments on The Jump on Monday.
“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 the (NBA) Finals,” Nichols 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, [and] how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor, and for how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team.”