Almost every single time I see ESPN reporter Malika Andrews on one of the network’s shows, I literally yell, “Why in the hell don’t they use her more?!?!” at my TV. For anyone who’s listened to the 26-year-old spend even 10 seconds breaking down everything from playoff expectations to NBA players amplifying calls for social justice, they know that her nuance and grasp of the game is unparalleled by just about anyone else at the worldwide leader in sports.
Sadly, despite her undeniable talent, the Oakland native has primarily been relegated to spot duty since joining ESPN in 2018. But that’s about to change with the announcement that the network’s blossoming superstar will be replacing embattled journalist Rachel Nichols as ESPN’s sideline reporter during the NBA Finals, per Yahoo Sports.
“We believe this is the best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals. Rachel will continue to host The Jump,” ESPN said in a statement.
Nichols, who likely spent her 4th of July fighting air after the New York Times dropped a bombshell report in which she privately accused her employer of only pushing for fellow NBA analyst Maria Taylor because she’s a Black woman, addressed the controversy (and her indefinite suspension from any and all Black gatherings) on her show The Jump on Monday.
“So the first thing they teach you in journalism school is don’t be the story, and I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals,” she began. “But I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect; how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN; how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor; and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team.”
While Nichols’ co-hosts Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins accepted her apology and noted that Taylor “deserves every opportunity that is presented her way,” social media hasn’t been nearly as forgiving. Particularly Mariah Rose, who just so happens to be Jalen Rose’s daughter. The same Jalen Rose who co-hosts NBA Countdown with...Maria Taylor.
Black News Channel reporter Mike Hill, who previously worked at ESPN for nine years, offered his own opinion on the matter and admitted, “There’s not been one Black person—that’s been on air and that I can think of right now—that’s not gone through hell at ESPN.”
Clearly, ESPN has plenty of work to do to resolve its racial dynamics behind the scenes, but hopefully Andrews, as one of its brightest talents, is able to push through the bullshit and make the most of such an amazing opportunity.