Besides doing her job, Maria Taylor has remained publicly silent since Sunday's New York Times story that revealed internal turmoil engulfing ESPN's NBA coverage team.
On Wednesday, she broke that silence on Twitter with a message about providing light and moving forward during "dark times." She didn't address Rachel Nichols or the ESPN tumult directly. But the "dark times" reference was clear, as was her message of positivity that came with photos of happier days on the job.
During the dark times I always remember that I am in this position to open doors and light the path that others walk down. 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 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ztSIx9CLpO
— Maria Taylor (@MariaTaylor) July 7, 2021
Rachel Nichols 'deeply, deeply sorry' for hurting Maria Taylor
Until Taylor's tweet, the only ESPN voice to address the issue in public was Nichols, who made a brief statement on Monday's episode of "The Jump" expressing "how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor."
The controversy is centered on leaked audio of Nichols, who is white, suggesting that Taylor, who is Black, rose to her position at ESPN because of a diversity effort rather than her merits. Nichols, seemingly unaware that she failed to turn off a video camera, made the comments in the NBA bubble in 2020, upset that Taylor was hosting the network's NBA Finals pregame coverage instead of her.
Taylor introduced Malika Andrews in Nichols' former role
That audio was shared internally at ESPN and eventually went public more than a year later when the Times published its story on Sunday, two days before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. According to the Times, Taylor has refused to work directly with Nichols since she heard the audio. ESPN didn't discipline Nichols prior to Sunday's story. After the Times report, Nichols was removed from her job as sideline reporter for the NBA Finals and replaced by Malika Andrews.
Maria Taylor welcomes Malika Andrews to the 2021 NBA Finals pic.twitter.com/iLIwu8cydt
— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) July 7, 2021
Will Taylor remain at ESPN?
Questions remain about the future of both Taylor and Nichols at ESPN. Taylor's contract is set to expire during the NBA Finals. According to the Times, "few substantive steps have been taken toward a new deal." Taylor hasn't publicly addressed negotiations — or lack thereof — or what her next step might be. Wednesday's tweet didn't shed any light on that front.
Nichols, meanwhile, returned to her hosting job on "The Jump" on Wednesday after Tuesday's show was canceled amid the turmoil. Her once seemingly solid footing as a face of the network's NBA coverage is anything but amid the backlash to her comments.
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