Sports journalist Maria Taylor is speaking out for the first time since facing allegations of racial favoritism from her fellow ESPN peer Rachel Nichols.
Earlier this week, Taylor became a trending topic not because of her own actions but because of remarks made by Nichols the year before that suggested the network executives’ decisions were racially influenced. But, unbeknownst to the former “NBA Countdown” host, cameras were still rolling as she carried on with the private conversation.
Ultimately, the recording made its way around social media and landed both women in the spotlight. However, for the duration of the scandal, Taylor remained silent until Wednesday evening, July 7, when she took to her Twitter page, seemingly addressing the situation.
Alongside several photos from events featuring a visibly happy Taylor, she wrote, “During the dark times, I always remember that I am in this position to open doors and light the path that others walk down.” She added, “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❤️.”
As previously reported, Nichols faced criticism after a July 2020 phone call between her, LeBron James’ adviser Adam Mendelsohn and his agent Rich Paul was leaked to The New York Times. The reporter suggested that the network wanted her to take on another role for last year’s NBA Final to give Taylor full-time hosting duties.
In the clip, Nichols says, “So they said to me ‘Hey, instead of hosting the NBA Finals, like why don’t you do Doris’ [Burke] sideline reporter job for the NBA Finals?’ ’Cause guess what that would clear the way for? For Maria to do the hosting full time. So I have declined.” Elsewhere, she wished Taylor all the best but if Taylor’s promotion was a pawn in their diversity record, they should “go for it just find it somewhere else. Like, you’re not going to find it with me.”
Nichols has since apologized for her disparaging remarks and “for disappointing those I hurt — particularly Maria Taylor — and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team.” Nichols claims she’s reached out to Taylor, but the anchor has yet to make contact.
The scandal comes as Taylor’s contract with ESPN is set to expire later this month. The New York Post reported that the 34-year-old is seeking “Stephen A. Smith money,” which is estimated to be near $8 million annually. She has already turned down $5 million, the Post claimed. Her current rate is $ 1 million.