Former ESPN sportscaster Rachel Nichols said on Showtime’s All the Smoke podcast this week that the leaked audio resulting in her exit from the sports network was obtain by someone “spying” on her in her hotel room.
Nichols is joining Showtime Basketball as a sportscaster and host, her first NBA-focused gig since leaving ESPN for NBC Sports.
Speaking with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the latest episode of the basketball podcast, Nichols spoke at length about her time at and unfriendly departure from the network.
“I was being told, well, you’re not a team player, which any woman in business knows is code, right?” she said of being asked to step aside on hosting the NBA finals. “Women are supposed to be kumbaya. and team players. and helpful; men are aggressive sharks and all of that.”
On the subject of the leaked audio of Nichols talking about then-colleague Maria Taylor, Nichols said someone was able to record her because she was unfamiliar with equipment provided for remote broadcasting during covid restrictions, resulting in a live “line” from her room,
“I didn’t know that if you leave a particular app running in the background, that the line from my hotel room looking into my hotel room to Bristol would stay open,” she said.
Nichols described being in her room the whole day, doing things like unpacking and making phone calls, with no one offering a heads up.
“Unfortunately, that entire time, nobody back at ESPN told me that there was an open line to my hotel room and anyone who looked at the feed could see me,” she said. “No one shut it off, decided, Oh, she clearly doesn’t know she’s being watched, unpacking or doing all these other things.”
And it wasn’t just that it was open, but “at least” one person was actively spectating.
“At least one person decided to just sit and watch and started spying on me like I was their own personal television show,” she said, including recording her phone conversations. “When they heard something they thought was, you see, they picked up their cell phone and they started recording my conversation on their cell phone.”
Nichols went through some of what she said and tried to explain her intent to Barnes and Jackson, who previously defended her. She also added that e person who recorded her sat on the tape for a year.
“Just kept it in their pocket,” she said, until they could use it for “leverage” in their own negotiations with the network.
The longer eight minute clip was shared in a tweet that went viral on Saturday.
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