Rachel Nichols caught complaining to LeBron James’ advisor about ESPN favoring Maria Taylor due to race

Orel Dizon
4 Min Read

With the NBA Finals set to start in a just few days, media giant ESPN is currently embroiled in controversy stemming from a rant made by one of its star hosts, Rachel Nichols.

Nichols’ July 2020 telephone conversation with Adam Mendelsohn, the longtime adviser to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, was caught on tape and leaked to the public.

She was reportedly venting her frustrations about ESPN host Maria Taylor, a Black woman, who was tasked with covering the 2020 NBA Finals instead of her.

“Nichols discussed her career on a phone call on July 13, 2020, with Adam Mendelsohn, the longtime adviser of the Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and James’s agent, Rich Paul,” wrote Kevin Draper of the New York Times. “Nichols was speaking with Mendelsohn to request an interview with James and his Lakers teammate Anthony Davis, whom Paul also represents. During the conversation, she also sought advice from Mendelsohn because she believed her bosses were advancing Taylor at her expense.”

Her words have already raised eyebrows since they were leaked.

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in July 2020. “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.”

Nichols was recorded due to the fact that cameras were still rolling without her knowledge.

“I just want them to go somewhere else — it’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing,” Nichols told Mendelsohn minutes after saying that ESPN was feeling pressure about racial diversity amongst its staff.

The call apparently took place in the Orlando, Fla. bubble. The footage was then discovered by an ESPN staffer.

Since then, Mendelsohn himself has released a statement regarding his role in the call.

“I will share what I believed then and still believe to be true,” he said. “Maria deserved and earned the position, and Rachel must respect it. Maria deserved it because of her work, and ESPN recognized that like many people and companies in America, they must intentionally change. Just because Maria got the job does not mean Rachel shouldn’t get paid what she deserves. Rachel and Maria should not be forced into a zero-sum game by ESPN, and Rachel needed to call them out.”

Taylor declined to comment on the story to the New York Times.

ESPN has yet to comment on the matter as well, and it is unclear how this would affect its coverage of this year’s NBA Finals.

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