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Watch Maria Taylor, Whose White Peer Suggested She Was Diversity Hire, Introduce The Black Woman Replacing Said Colleague

Television host Maria Taylor enthusiastically introduced the newest sideline reporter during game 1 of the NBA Finals after ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols made a comment about the network’s effort to improve its diversity. 

“Now it’s my pleasure to welcome in Malika Andrews, who will be on the sideline for the first time in an NBA Finals game in her career,” Taylor exclaimed.

As Blavity previously reported, Malika Andrews replaced Nichols as the NBA Finals sideline reporter on ABC. Nichols accused Taylor of being a “diversity initiative” when she was selected to host the 2020 NBA Finals. 

“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,” Nichols said in the May 2020 audio clip during a conversation with longtime LeBron James adviser, Adam Mendelsohn.

“Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away,” she added. “There isn’t just one seat at the table for a minority of whichever version this week we’re trying to please.”

The NBA Countdown host finally broke her silence on the matter, writing an inspirational message to help her find clarity through times of adversity. 

“During the dark times I always remember that I am in this position to open doors and light the path that others walk down,” Taylor wrote in a post shared on Twitter and Instagram, Sports Illustrated reported. “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.”

On Monday’s broadcast of The Jump, Nichols publicly apologized for her actions, and for “disappointing those she hurt.”

“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.”

ESPN canceled The Jump on Tuesday, but Nichols appeared back on-air Wednesday.

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