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NBA commissioner not happy about ESPN controversy involving Rachel Nichols

“I would have thought that in the past year ... that ESPN would have found a way to be able to work through it,” Adam Silver told reporters.

ESPN host and reporter Rachel Nichols (right) was pulled from the network's coverage of the NBA Finals after complaining about colleague Maria Taylor (right) in a leaked audio recording
ESPN host and reporter Rachel Nichols (right) was pulled from the network's coverage of the NBA Finals after complaining about colleague Maria Taylor (right) in a leaked audio recordingRead moreAP Photos

NBA commissioner Adam Silver should have been promoting Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night. Instead, he was addressing a swirling controversy involving two of ESPN’s top NBA stars: Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor.

On Tuesday night, Silver told reporters the situation was “disheartening,” noting that it was unfortunate to see two high-profile women in the industry “pitted against each other.”

» READ MORE: ESPN removes Rachel Nichols from NBA Finals role following leaked recording

Last weekend, the New York Times published a leaked audio recording of Nichols complaining about losing her NBA Countdown hosting job to Taylor last August. Nichols, who is white, complained that ESPN replaced her with Taylor, who is Black, to satisfy diversity issues at the network.

“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,” Silver said, according to New York Times reporter Kevin Draper. “Obviously not.”

Silver, who said the NBA is working on its own issues of diversity, went on to praise both Nichols and Taylor and said “careers shouldn’t be erased by a single comment.”

“They are incredibly devoted to the NBA. They are devoted to what they do, and it is just an unfortunate situation, especially at this moment in time,” Silver said. “When we like all the focus to be on the players on the floor.”

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on ESPN Wednesday to see if Nichols returns to The Jump.

Nichols was expected to host The Jump on Tuesday afternoon, but ESPN pulled it off its schedule at the last minute. The network declined to comment, but a source connected to the show said it was pulled because the crew needed to regroup following the backlash over Nichols’ comments. The plan and expectation is for Nichols to return Wednesday, the source said.

On Tuesday, Nichols lost her role as the sideline reporter for ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Finals on ABC. Malika Andrews will fill the role for the series.

Taylor, who hosted NBA Countdown prior to the Phoenix Suns’ Game 1 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, didn’t mention the controversy on air. Taylor’s contract expires July 20, according to the New York Post, meaning she could leave the network before the NBA Finals are over if ESPN doesn’t re-sign her.

WIP host livid over Morey’s Twitter jab

At least he’s not using a burner account.

Over the weekend, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey hopped on Twitter to respond to a story written by my colleague Keith Pompey, where he outlined why “The Process” has been a failure for the franchise. Needless to say, Morey wasn’t too happy about the piece following the team’s early exit from the NBA playoffs.

On Tuesday, WIP-FM host Joe DeCamara ripped Morey for flippantly telling Pompey on Twitter to “find a new slant.”

“Who the heck is Daryl Morey? I mean, he’s been here for like five minutes,” DeCamara complained. “We have endured this for eight years. We remember hopeless basketball when they won 19 games in a full season, 18 games, and 10 games.

“We lived through a 1-30 start to a season! Morey didn’t live through that, he wasn’t here. Daryl Morey doesn’t get to comment on the emotional experience we feel as fans and our enormous — and I emphasize, enormous — disappointment,” DeCamara continued. “Daryl Morey should just stay in his lane, and that lane certainly is not telling a reporter what to write, or what not to write.”

It’s worth pointing out that in the story, Pompey quoted Sixers GM Elton Brand calling “The Process” a failure last year.

“As of now, yes, it’s failing,” Brand said in August 2020. “It didn’t produce the results that we expected. It’s a results-based business. We are trying to right those wrongs, and make sure we do better.”

This isn’t the first time Morey has made waves with his Twitter account. Last month, both he and the Sixers were fined $75,000 for a tweet involving Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry that the league said violated its anti-tampering rule.

» READ MORE: It’s clear ‘The Process’ was a failure for Sixers

Quick hits

  1. During TNT’s The Match golf charity event Tuesday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was coy about his return to Green Bay this season in time for the opener. “Yeah, I don’t know, BA, we’ll see,” Rodgers said when asked by announcer Brian Anderson. “We’ll see, won’t we?”

  1. A touching eulogy for the father of a longtime equipment manager for the Kansas City Royals was interrupted Monday when play-by-play announcer Ryan Lefebvre was forced to call a home run by Cincinnati Reds slugger Nick Castellanos. It’s worth pointing out that it was also Castellanos who hit a home run in the middle of Thom Brennaman’s apology for using a homophobic slur during a broadcast.

  1. The ABC affiliate in Tampa Bay did not air Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday, but it had a good reason — it was covering Tropical Storm Elsa live as it moved through the area. Instead it sent the game to an alternate channel, which angered viewers on social media … because it was in standard definition.