Stephen A. Smith apologizes and says his comments on Shohei Ohtani were « clearly insensitive and unfortunate. »
SportsCenter host Kenny Mayne is leaving ESPN after 27 years
ESPN analyst Maria Taylor split from the network weeks after an internal controversy between Taylor and ESPN anchor Rachel Nichols was published.
The cable network announced on Wednesday that Taylor and ESPN had not reached an agreement were able to obtain a contract extension, making Taylor’s NBA final coverage Tuesday night her final assignment for the network. « Maria’s remarkable success speaks directly to her skills and work ethic, » ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “There’s no doubt we’ll miss Maria, but we remain determined to continue to build a comprehensive and knowledgeable talent roster that fully reflects the athletes we support and the fans we support. Even though she has decided to take on a new role, we are proud of the work we have done together. «
Taylor added: » I am so grateful to Jimmy and all of my great teammates and friends on the SEC Network, College GameDay, College Basketball for women and men and the NBA countdown family – the people who believed in me, encouraged me, poked me and lifted me up above. Words are not enough to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud. «
Taylor’s exit came less than three weeks after Nichols’ comments made about her last year became public, which suggested that Taylor was given additional opportunities at ESPN because she is black. In July 2020, while speaking with LeBron James’ advisor Adam Mendelsohn, Nichols expressed frustration that Taylor was moderating coverage of the 2020 NBA Final when Nichols felt she was going to take on that role instead / p> « I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world – she covers football, she covers basketball, » said Nichols during the interview, the audio of which was shared in a July 4th article in the New York Times. « If you have to give her more to do because you are feeling pressure because of your shitty long-term record in terms of diversity – which, by the way, I know personally from the female side – then do it. Just find it somewhere else. You won’t find it from me or take my thing away from me. ”After the audio clip was released, Nichols apologized on The Jump, ESPN’s weekday NBA show. “I don’t want to let this moment go by without saying how much I respect our colleagues here at ESPN, how much I appreciate our colleagues here at ESPN, how sorry I am for disappointing those I have hurt have, especially Maria Taylor, and how grateful I am. I want to be part of this outstanding team, ”she said.
Nichols was later stripped from the side coverage at this year’s NBA Finals and replaced by Malika Andrews.
Taylor’s next appearance has not yet been officially announced, but the New York Post reports that she will likely switch to NBC soon, starting with the network’s upcoming coverage of the Olympics. She has worked with ESPN since 2014, initially as a college sports analyst and reporter, and began hosting the NBA countdown alongside Jalen Rose and Jay Williams in 2019.
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