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ESPN host Maria Taylor sent a cryptic tweet about “dark times” on Wednesday amid the fallout from colleague Rachel Nichols’ comments about her colleague and diversity at ESPN surfacing in The New York Times.
Taylor, who is Black, accompanied her tweet with four photos but did not address Nichols, who is White, or the growing controversy directly.
“During the dark times I always remember that I am in this position to open doors and light the path that others walk down. I’ve taken some punches but that just means I’m still in the fight. Remember to lift as you climb and always KEEP RISING,” she wrote.
Taylor as host helmed “NBA Countdown” on ABC Tuesday night before Game 1 of the NBA Finals and appeared to be unbothered by the noise around her as she tossed to Malika Andrews, who is Black, for a report ahead of the game. Andrews replaced Nichols as the Finals sideline reporter for the series earlier in the day.
The New York Times clip showed Nichols complaining about Taylor getting the “NBA Countdown” assignment. Nichols was talking to LeBron James’ adviser Adam Mendelsohn and was unaware she was being recorded.
“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.
“I just want them to go somewhere else — it’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing. The “job” she was referring to was the hosting responsibilities at the Finals.
Nichols later apologized on Monday’s episode of “The Jump,” her daily weekday NBA show on ESPN.
“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,” 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. 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.”
The National Association of Black Journalists demanded a meeting with ESPN and Disney executives amid the fallout.
Taylor is an accomplished ESPN personality who has primarily worked on college football and NBA coverage. She’s also appeared for the network for college volleyball and college basketball.
Before Taylor joined ESPN, she was an All-SEC volleyball team member starring at Georgia. She finished her career with 1,729 kills and 2,020 points – both in the top five in school history.
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