Retired NBA player Stephen Jackson is defending ESPN’s The Jump host Rachel Nichols after comments she made on the qualifications of fellow reporter Maria Taylor were leaked.
Jackson, who has appeared on The Jump several times, blamed ESPN for the controversy surrounding Nichols’ remarks recorded in July 2020 when she failed to turn off her video camera after a live broadcast with ESPN.
During the recording, Nichols was on the phone seeking advice from Adam Mendelsohn, LeBron James’ longtime advisor.
The Jump host can be heard saying that she felt Taylor was promoted over her to host “NBA Countdown” during the 2020 NBA Finals inside the Orlando bubble because of ESPN’s poor record on diversity.
“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. Just find it somewhere else,” said Nichols.
Rachel Nichols: “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. Just find it somewhere else.” pic.twitter.com/aB5MifujuX
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) July 4, 2021
The New York Times reported on the incident, sharing the recording Sunday.
Jackson believes ESPN gave Taylor “a sympathy job” amid the Black Lives Matter movement and defended Nichols in an Instagram post.
“We all ramble. We say things when we are frustrated. And you know, Rachel [Nichols] did deserve that job. It’s just plain and simple. I talked to Rachel, and I know a lot of things she was saying out of frustration because ESPN put her in a bad position,” And they even put Maria [Taylor] in a position trying to give her a sympathy job.
According to the New York Times, Nichols’ recording was stored on an ESPN server accessible to multiple employees and was then recorded by someone on their cell phone.
The recording was then shared with multiple employees before it was leaked to Deadspin and the Times.
Despite Jackson’s support, many employees at ESPN are angry with Nichols and say she has made Taylor’s job much more difficult, according to the Times.