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ESPN Waits a Year to Clean Up Rachel Nichols–Maria Taylor Mess, Makes Mess Messier: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. There are so many layers and a lot of nuance to the Rachel Nichols–Maria Taylor controversy. One thing that’s been pretty clear, though, is that ESPN has bungled this entire situation.

I was struck by the wording of this tweet from TMZ Sports on Tuesday night.

That tweet really isn’t accurate.

The accurate tweet would read, “Rachel Nichols Booted From NBA Finals Sideline Gig After Maria Taylor Comments Even Though ESPN Let Her Work the NBA Finals Last Season, But Now ESPN Is Booting Her Because Someone Leaked the Comments to the New York Times.”

ESPN knew about Nichols's comments last year and she worked the NBA Finals. So ESPN didn’t pull her from this year’s Finals because of the comments she made in a private call that was recorded by mistake and distributed on purpose. She was pulled from the NBA Finals because the comments became public.

In an interesting twist, the comments were also made public just weeks before Taylor’s contract with ESPN is set to expire.

So now ESPN is in full-fledged panic mode. It pulled Nichols from the Finals and then bizarrely didn’t air her show, The Jump, on Tuesday, even though she hosted it Monday.

It was foolish for ESPN to pull the show instead of just using a substitute host. By pulling the show, ESPN punished Nichols’s co-hosts, Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins, and all the people who work on the show behind the scenes.

ESPN should’ve done whatever it needed to do to fix this situation last year.

An argument can be made that this mess is an extension of NBA Countdown being a disaster for years and years and years. ESPN has never been able to produce a top-notch NBA pregame show.

The cast turned over for years. Everyone from Magic Johnson to Bill Simmons to Michelle Beadle has had a crack at making Countdown a show that generated buzz with NBA fans à la NBA on TNT. But it never happened.

After ESPN booted Beadle as host in 2019, the network announced Nichols and Taylor would share hosting duties. I can’t ever remember a studio show for a major sport having multiple hosts.

This was a dumb move then and it’s become a catastrophe now.

2. A lot of degenerate gamblers are trying to capitalize on the possibility of Aaron Rodgers getting traded to the Broncos.

Not a bad play since it's pretty clear Rodgers has no intentions of playing for the Packers. But if I were a betting man, I'd put money on Rodgers retiring.

3. On one hand, I agree with Steve Kerr saying Kevin Durant should not bother with Twitter. And clearly, Durant disagrees with that take.

On the other hand, I never want Durant to stop providing tremendous content on Twitter.

4. Jimmy Kimmel has given us a brand new edition of NBA Mean Tweets.

5. J.J. Watt has some solid form on his long-range jumpers.

6. The latest episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast dropped Thursday morning, and it features an interview with Green Light Podcast host and former Super Bowl champion Chris Long, and our new weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment.

Long talks about why it would've been nice to see more star NFL players offer public support for Carl Nassib after the Raiders defensive lineman announced he is gay. Long also explains what the locker room reaction will be like for Nassib and why Nassib's announcement is important.

Long also discusses how he'd handle having teammates who refuse to get vaccinated, why he'd debate Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley and why players who won't get vaccinated are out of luck.

In honor of the Fourth of July weekend, Long power ranks Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, and also weighs in on burgers vs. hot dogs vs. sausage.

In this week's Traina Thoughts segment, WFAN's Sal Licata talks about Tom Brady's personality, Scottie Pippen's wild interview with Dan Patrick, the Yankees' woes and #FreeBritney.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: The 32nd anniversary of Seinfeld's debut was July 5. In honor of the occasion, a very creative person made this video that mashes up clips from the show with a song from every year Seinfeld was on TV.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.