ESPN’s coverage of the 2021 NBA Finals has made almost as many headlines as the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks. It started on the Fourth of July when the New York Times published a story detailing the fallout from comments reporter Rachel Nichols made about fellow host Maria Taylor, and the drama has only continued in the following days.

One year ago, Nichols suggested in a private phone call that Taylor, who is Black, was chosen to host ESPN’s 2020 NBA Finals coverage because the network was feeling pressure related to its poor record on diversity. A recording of that conversation made its way around ESPN, sparking anger among many employees.

Nichols, host of ESPN's “The Jump,” reportedly had it in her contract that she would host “NBA Countdown” during last year’s Finals. Following the recent public backlash that Nichols and ESPN received, Malika Andrews replaced Nichols as the sideline reporter on ABC for Game 1 in Phoenix Tuesday night.

On Monday, Nichols hosted “The Jump” and began the show by apologizing for her controversial comments. Nichols and ESPN received more scrutiny for the apology, and “The Jump” didn’t air as scheduled Tuesday afternoon.

The plan is for “The Jump” to return in its regularly scheduled slot Wednesday, according to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, but even that might be up in the air.

Nichols said she has reached out to Taylor, who has declined to speak to her. The situation has become so volatile that NBA commissioner Adam Silver discussed it at a press conference before Tuesday’s game.

“I mean, this is an incident that happened I guess when Rachel was in the bubble a year ago, and 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,” Silver said. “Obviously not.”

It’s a messy situation that ESPN has handled poorly and could get even worse.

The Post noted that Taylor’s contract expires on July 20, when the Finals could be ongoing. The two sides are reportedly far apart in negotiations.

Rachel Nichols , Adrian Wojnarowski
Reporters Rachel Nichols and Adrian Wojnarowski speak before the start of the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Mike Lawrie/Getty Images