Last night, ESPN broadcasted what could be the start of a dynasty in Milwaukee as Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years. At the same time, it may have marked the end of an incredible run in the world of sports as well. Reporter and host Maria Taylor has completed her contract with ESPN and has announced that she will part ways with the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports.
“So thankful to Jimmy and all of my great teammates and friends at the SEC Network, College GameDay, Women’s and Men’s college basketball, and the NBA Countdown family — the people who believed in me, encouraged me, pushed me, and lifted me up. Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud," Taylor said in a brief statement.
Taylor's contract negotiations with the network were pushed to the forefront after a New York Times report highlighted comments that her colleague, Rachel Nichols, made about her last year. In a leaked conversation, Nichols can be heard talking to communications strategist Adam Mendelsohn about the network's coverage plans for the 2021 NBA Finals. Initially, Nichols explained that she was under the impression that she would be hosting their flagship basketball show, NBA Countdown, during the summer series. However, she was moved to a sideline reporter role in favor of Taylor. Not only did Nichols complain about the move, but she also insinuated that Taylor received the opportunity because of her race and not because of her talent. Moreover, she half-heartedly joked about the Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movements.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols told communication strategist Adam Mendelsohn.
“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.”
In the wake of the New York Times report, Nichols was removed from her sideline reporter role and replaced by Malika Andrews. Andrews took full advantage of the role and became the youngest sports broadcaster to host an NBA Finals trophy presentation ceremony.
As for Taylor, it is rumored that she could join NBC and cover the NFL and college football as well as the Tokyo Olympics. Also, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post has reported that Taylor could join Amazon and help lead their Thursday Night Football coverage during the NFL season. However, Taylor has not publicly announced her next move.