Maria Taylor Rumors
Elle Duncan and Michael Eaves are on the short list of names ESPN is considering to host NBA Countdown this season after the departure of Maria Taylor, multiple sources tell OutKick. ESPN airs NBA games on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, so Eaves and Duncan could even split days as hosts. Stephen A. Smith has also hosted one night of NBA pregame coverage per week since 2019.
ESPN: In May, you and Jalen talked on ESPN after you were selected for the Hall of Fame. What did that moment mean to you? Chris Webber: ESPN didn’t tell me [Jalen] was going to interview me. So they kept saying, ‘Here comes [host Maria Taylor], Maria … 5, 4, 3 …’ and then I hear, ‘What up?’ And it was [Jalen]. So it was a cool moment. I mean, I talk to his family, his sister, you know, all the time. Him and I still have to talk. Like, things don’t get repaired without talking. So that’s not the way to do it, to interview me on camera and not go into a room.
In the wake of Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols’ departures, Jalen Rose, Jay Williams and Adrian Wojnarowski are the “Countdown” incumbents, while Richard Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins and Chiney Ogwumike would figure to be candidates to join the show. ESPN also has interest in Draymond Green, but, as an active player, the Warriors forward would only be available on occasion.
The move comes about a year after a private conversation that Nichols had with sports PR exec Adam Mendelsohn, when the NBA host complained that Maria Taylor was chosen to host “NBA Countdown” during the NBA Finals because of the color of her skin. Unbeknownst to Nichols, the comments were recorded and distributed among several ESPN employees. Details of the conversation and the subsequent fallout were reported by the N.Y. Times earlier this summer. Taylor has since left the network, agreeing to a deal with NBC Sports.
Maria Taylor, whose work has already included many of the biggest events in sports, joins NBC Sports beginning with the Tokyo Olympics. She comes to NBC Sports after nearly a decade at ABC/ESPN, where she most recently hosted the NBA Finals earlier this week. Highlighted by host roles for the Olympics and the NFL – including as a host and contributor for Football Night in America and Super Bowls – Taylor will work across premier NBC Sports properties. In Tokyo, her very first assignment as part of the NBC Sports team, she will join Mike Tirico as host for Prime Plus, and will also serve as a correspondent.
“Maria has excelled in a wide range of roles at marquee events, and will be a powerful addition to our team. We are always looking to improve, and Maria is going to make us better. We are very excited for her to join us right away in Tokyo,” said Pete Bevacqua, Chairman, NBC Sports. “Incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work with Pete, Molly, Sam, Fred, and the entire NBC Sports family,” Taylor said. “Literally, hosting the Olympics, Football Night in America, and the Super Bowl is what I dreamed of when I started in television – and this would not be possible without standing on the shoulders of all of those who came before me and made this path possible. And I plan to pay it forward.”
Just a few days after leaving ESPN, Maria Taylor has found a new TV home. Taylor has joined NBC Sports, making her debut for the network during its primetime coverage of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremonies. Taylor, who covered the NBA Finals earlier in the week, was in Tokyo for the Olympics by Friday.