Commissioner Adam Silver showed support for ESPN’s NBA personality Rachel Nichols in her feud with colleague Maria Taylor, saying the whole episode is “disheartening’’ and appeared angry the...
Commissioner Adam Silver showed support for ESPN’s NBA personality Rachel Nichols in her feud with colleague Maria Taylor, saying the whole episode is “disheartening’’ and appeared angry the issue has festered this long.
ESPN banned Nichols from doing sideline coverage of the NBA Finals as a result of a secret tape recording one year ago in which she stated that Taylor’s promotion to the “NBA Countdown” shows was likely based on race. Taylor is black. Nichols is still doing her regular NBA show, “The Jump’’ though Tuesday’s edition hours before the start of the finals was cancelled.
Silver doesn’t believe Nichols’ future with the network should be in jeopardy over her secretly taped comment..
“(It’s) creating a climate where people are comfortable saying what’s on their mind, where people are given the benefit of the doubt, especially long-term employees that are in good standing that when they do make comments, that people recognize that people make mistakes, that careers shouldn’t be erased by a single comment, that we should be judging people by the larger context of their body of work and who they are,’’ Silver said.
The secret recording, which was uploaded to ESPN servers, was provided to network heads a year ago and Silver can’t fathom how it hadn’t already been resolved. Silver made his remarks at his annual State of the NBA Address before The Finals.
“I think it’s particularly unfortunate that two women in the industry are pitted against each other,’’ Silver said. “I know that both Rachel and Maria are terrific at what they do, they work extraordinarily hard.
“When people can’t get in a room and talk through these issues, this seemingly has festered now for a full year. This is an incident that happened I guess when Rachel was in the bubble a year ago, and 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. Obviously not.’’
In a remark that was seen as being upset she wasn’t promoted to host the 2020 NBA Finals, Nichols was heard on tape in 2020 talking to Adam Mendelsohn, a LeBron James confidant.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,'” Nichols said. “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. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing.’’
Silver, who spoke for 45 minutes, addressed a myriad of topics:
Silver still is displeased by the amount of load management/rest days being taken by star players, believing it’s not reducing injuries and it’s “non-scientific.’’
“The issue which we’re trying to get to the root of is does resting work, frankly?,’’ Silver said. “Does load management work? You would like to believe that with the investment, the level of sophistication, the number of doctors, the amount of analytics, we would have seen improvements and we haven’t seen that yet.’’
Silver said there’s an “economic impact’’ on stars missing games to rest.
“(Fans) don’t necessarily want to pay the same price for the ticket if the stars aren’t playing or whatever television programming looks like in the future in terms of how people are charged for it,’’ Silver said.
The commissioner added it could come to a point where, “The game doesn’t have the same value.’’
Silver said the play-in format experimented in the bubble of 2020 and this year will be back in 2022. There could be “tweaks’’, however, after LeBron James crushed the format. Currently, teams seeded 7-to-10 don’t automatically qualify for the playoffs.
“Although there were critics, not just LeBron but others who weren’t in favor of it and maybe some teams who weren’t thrilled with it, I think overall it was very positive for the league and the players,’’ Silver said.
Silver sounded more alarmed by the zero amount of women’s head coaches than the other issue of the disproportionate amount of male white head coaches in a league in which rosters are mostly black.
“In terms of women, it’s a little bit frustrating,’’ Silver said. “It’s an area where even just looking around the room here, you would like to see more women represented in the room here today, in all aspects of our business.’’
Silver didn’t set a date for the season opener but mentioned he thinks the schedule will “looks very close to normal next year.’’ Sources told The Post the NBA was eyeing a season opener of either Oct. 19 or Oct. 26.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman