Right before Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, league commissioner Adam Silver discussed the recent controversy at ESPN involving Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor.
Nichols made controversial remarks about Taylor and her role at ESPN in a call that was shared by the New York Times over the weekend.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said. “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.”
These comments from Nichols forced ESPN to make some changes to this year’s coverage for the NBA Finals. Instead of reporting from the sidelines, Nichols is strictly hosting The Jump, though the Tuesday edition of that show was pulled as well. Silver believes this is a “disheartening” situation for all parties involved.
“I think it’s particularly unfortunate that two women in the industry are pitted against each other,” Silver said, via Deadline. “I know that both Rachel and Maria are terrific at what they do. They work extraordinarily hard.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Defends Embattled ESPN Host Rachel Nichols, Wonders Why Network Didn’t Resolve Conflict Sooner https://t.co/ZQpyKE2NoT
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) July 7, 2021
Silver also questioned why ESPN didn’t address this conflict for the past several months. After all, Nichols’ comments were made before the 2020 NBA Finals.
“I think part of the problem is that when people can’t get in a room and talk through these issues — this seemingly has festered now for a full year. I would have thought that in the past year, maybe through some incredibly difficult conversations, that ESPN would have found a way to be able to work through it. Obviously not.”
Even though Rachel Nichols’ comments were out of line, Silver thinks a veteran reporter like her should be given a second chance.
Silver told reporters this situation requires “a very labor-intensive effort…creating a climate where people are comfortable saying what’s on their mind, where people are given the benefit of the doubt, especially long-term employees that are in good standing that when they do make comments that people recognize that people make mistakes — that careers shouldn’t be erased by a single comment.”
Only time will tell if ESPN can sort out this situation and get things back on the right track.