Former NBA player Stephen Jackson is backing ESPN’s Rachel Nichols and blasting the sports network for giving Nichols’ black colleague Maria Taylor a “sympathy job” to “make themselves look good” amid last year’s Black Lives Matter and George Floyd rioting.
What’s the background?
As TheBlaze’s Jason Whitlock pointed out Monday, Taylor took unjustifiable offense after Nichols made the complaint in a private, leaked conversation. Nichols was annoyed that Taylor got the ESPN NBA Countdown hosting job over her and that it was due to diversity pressure.
Whitlock added in his Tuesday follow-up op-ed that he “can’t imagine pretending to be as fragile as Taylor, a 34-year-old former Division I basketball and volleyball player. I can’t imagine being so obsessed with the opinions of my white co-workers that their private thoughts could hurt me to the point that I’d expect the company’s human resources department to address it.”
And now the hammer has come down harder on Nichols, as CNBC reported Tuesday that ESPN has pulled Nichols from sideline coverage of the NBA Fiinals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns.
Stephen Jackson steps in
Jackson came to Nichols’ defense Monday in an Instagram video and placed the blame squarely on ESPN’s shoulders.
“We all ramble. We say things when we’re frustrated. And you know, Rachel did deserve that job. It’s just plain and simple. I talked to Rachel, and I know a lot of things she was saying out of frustration because ESPN put her in a bad position. And they even put Maria in a position trying to give Maria a sympathy job,” Jackson said.
He added that ESPN was “trying to make themselves look good because all the Black Lives Matter … and George Floyd stuff was going on. So ESPN tried to make themselves look good by taking the job from Rachel that she had already had, that they’d already told her she had, that she deserved, and give it to Maria just to make themselves look good. It wasn’t a genuine job they wanted to give Maria. … ESPN’s behind all this … I can’t blame Rachel. I Iove Rachel, and I’m gonna stand behind her, I spoke to her. And I’m gonna stand behind Maria, too. But ESPN, ya’ll are some suckers … y’all did this.”
But that’s not all Jackson said.
He posted three other videos relating to the controversy as well as larger issues. In one Jackson said he understands Nichols’ dissatisfaction, that she “never” showed him signs of being “racist,” and that he’d be angry too if he lost out on a job for which he was qualified based on race alone.
‘I’m gonna hit y’all with a harsh truth’
In another he told viewers that “a lot of y’all … still livin’ off your mama, still livin’ in your mama house and wondering why you ain’t winning or ‘I ain’t got nothin’ going on.’ I’m gonna hit y’all with a harsh truth: I am the face for equality, but I also am the face of being black and proud and being strong and goin’ to get what’s mine. Not askin’ no white person or nobody to give me nothin’. I’m gonna take what’s mine, like I been doin’.”
Jackson added that some of his viewers also are “quick to forget” that when Nichols’ show, “The Jump,” started, “Rachel hired all black people. Remember that.”
In his final clip, Jackson blasted those who are “sittin’ around waiting for somebody to hand you something instead of” doing things for themselves. He also said many of his viewers are “stuck in this attitude of blaming white people for why you ain’t made it … get up off your ass and put in the work. Ain’t nobody holding you back — that’s you.”
Here are all of Jackson’s clips in one video. Content warning: Profanity, N-word uttered:
Stephen Jackson Defends Rachel Nichols After ESPN Leaked Audio
According to HotNewHipHop, Jackson got hit with backlash on social media for backing Nichols “as some felt like he shouldn’t be rushing to the defense of a white woman, especially considering the fact that he is an activist.” The outlet added that criticism of Jackson “ended up snowballing into memes, and for now, Jackson isn’t in good standing with the rest of NBA Twitter.”