Adam Silver critical of ESPN over handling of Rachel Nichols situation

Rachel Nichols may end up losing a third role at ESPN after she was already removed from two, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver made it clear on Tuesday that he does not agree with the way the network has handled the situation.

While speaking with reporters prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Silver called the situation involving Nichols and Maria Taylor “disheartening.” He defended Nichols and said people should be judged by “the larger context of their body of work and who they are and what we know about them” rather than a single comment.

Silver also questioned why ESPN let the issue simmer for so long.

“I think it’s particularly unfortunate that two women in the industry are pitted against each other,” he said, via Jason Owens of Yahoo Sports. “I know that both Rachel and Maria are terrific at what they do. They work extraordinarily hard”.

“I think part of the problem is that when people can’t get in a room and talk through these issues — this seemingly has festered now for a full year. 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.”

An audio clip that was leaked on Sunday featured Nichols complaining that Taylor was given the NBA Finals hosting job over her last year. Nichols criticized ESPN for its “crappy longtime record on diversity” but said she felt she was more deserving than Taylor.

It’s unclear how long ESPN has known about the recording.

So far, Nichols lost her NBA Finals hosting job to Taylor and lost her NBA Finals reporting job to Malika Andrews. ESPN also chose to cancel Tuesday’s edition of “The Jump,” which Nichols hosts.