ESPN's Maria Taylor on Recent Controversy: 'Remember to Lift as You Climb'

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ESPN's Maria Taylor took to social media Wednesday and appeared to address the recent news surrounding herself and ESPN colleague Rachel Nichols. 

"During the dark times I always remember that I am in this position to open doors and light the path that others walk down," Taylor wrote in a post shared on Twitter and Instagram. "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."

Taylor has been with ESPN since 2013 and is one of the network's lead reporters on college football coverage. She also began hosting NBA Countdown in '19.

Over the weekend, a New York Times report detailed a conversation from last July, in which Nichols lamented Taylor’s increased NBA coverage at the network. Nichols also claimed in that conversation, which was with media and athlete adviser Adam Mendelsohn, that Taylor's additional responsibility was due at least in part to ESPN's "crappy longtime record on diversity."

Taylor, who is Black, served as ESPN's host for coverage of the 2020 NBA Finals, an assignment Nichols expected to receive, per the Times. In the audio obtained by The New York Times, Nichols said of Taylor that “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 away," Nichols added.

In the aftermath of The Times report, Nichols was taken off her sideline reporting assignment for this year's NBA Finals. 

In her place, ESPN's Malika Andrews is serving as the sideline reporter for the Suns-Bucks series.

According to The Times, Nichols reached out to Taylor personally to apologize via texts and phone calls. The messages have not been returned.

Taylor is currently hosting NBA Countdown on-site during this year's Finals. Nichols is continuing to host The Jump, ESPN's flagship daily NBA program.

Taylor's comments also come as her contract with ESPN is set to expire before the end of the month. According to the New York Post's Andrew Marchand, her current contract with the network expires July 20. The NBA Finals could end on July 22 if the series goes seven games.

ESPN reportedly offered Taylor nearly $5 million per year, up from her reported salary of $1 million per year, during negotiations last year. Taylor, however, reportedly turned down the offer in an attempt to earn closer to $8 million per year. 

Game 2 of the NBA Finals is Thursday. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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