NBA commissioner Adam Silver held his annual press conference prior to Game 1 of the 2021 Finals on Tuesday night. Among a myriad of other topics, Silver was asked about the ongoing tension at ESPN — one of the league’s broadcast partners — regarding comments that Rachel Nichols made about Maria Taylor last year. Taylor replaced Nichols as the host of NBA Countdown, and in response, Nichols, unaware that her recording equipment was on, told Adam Mendelsohn, an advisor to LeBron James, that Taylor got the Countdown gig because ESPN was “feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity.”
When asked to comment on all of this, Silver started by speaking about the incident more broadly.
“People make mistakes. Careers shouldn’t be erased by a single comment…”
Adam Silver speaks on Rachel Nichols’ recent comments about NBA Countdown host Maria Taylor, and ESPN’s response: pic.twitter.com/yPzerhdKbB
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) July 7, 2021
“What I’ve learned from dealing with these issues with the NBA is that they are incredibly complex,” Silver said. “There’s no magic bullets here, and they require a very labor intensive effort of getting people in the room and working through these issues by talking a lot about them and then talking even more about them and creating a climate where people are comfortable saying what’s on their mind, where people are given the benefit of the doubt, especially long-term employees that are in good standing, that when they do make comments, that people recognize that people make mistakes, that careers shouldn’t be erased by a single comment, that we should be judging people by the context of their larger body of work, and who they are, and what we know about them.”
Silver went on to be a little more specific, referencing both Nichols and Taylor before continuing to package this as an issue ESPN has not addressed despite having ample time to do so.
“I think it’s particularly unfortunate that two women in the industry are pitted against each other,’’ Silver said, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I know that both Rachel and Maria are terrific at what they do, they work extraordinarily hard.
“When people can’t get in a room and talk through these issues, this seemingly has festered now for a full year. This is an incident that happened I guess when Rachel was in the bubble a year ago, and I would have thought that in the past year, maybe through some incredibly difficult conversations, that ESPN would have found a way to be able to work through it. Obviously not.’’
In response to the story getting out, Nichols offered up an apology on The Jump and was taken off of ESPN’s NBA Finals broadcasts — she had been expected to serve as a sideline reporter — while The Jump did not air on Tuesday.