In a recently shared tweet by Maria Taylor, she gave insight about the growing ESPN controversy involving herself, other Black co-workers, and Rachel Nichols.
Her first public comments directly addressing the matter, find her keeping a brave and perseverance-focused mindset. “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. “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.”
Nichols’ leaked recording between herself, Adam Mendelsohn, an adviser to LeBron James and his agent, Rich Paul, took place last summer and found the NBA: The Jump host commenting on Taylor’s presence on the sidelines for the NBA Finals.
On the recording, Nichols suggests that Taylor received NBA Finals hosting duties because the network was “feeling pressure” about its “crappy longtime record on diversity.” She also expressed a fear of becoming a “victim of them [ESPN] trying to play catch-up” with regards to equal opportunities.
ESPN promptly removed Nichols from her NBA Finals duties following the leak and canceled Tuesday’s edition of NBA: The Jump. Sports fans had gave her the side-eye after she began Monday’s show with a tearful apology to Taylor. Taylor, a graduate from the University of Georgia, appeared on NBA Countdown ahead of Game 1 of the back-and-forth between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks.
With Game 2 tonight, July 8, all eyes turn back to ESPN as it faces a pivotal decision over Taylor’s future with the network. Her contract is set to expire once the Finals end, and she has gone on record as seeking “Stephen A. Smith money,” which is near $8 million annually. Taylor has already turned down a new deal that would pay her almost $5 million per year, but if ESPN chooses not to renew it, you can imagine that other networks would be keen to bring her (and her growing audience) to their side ASAP.