The Milwaukee Bucks may have won the NBA championship on Tuesday night, but sideline reporter Malika Andrews emerged as the real MVP for her ability to seamlessly conduct post-game interviews amid a wild celebration.
Andrews’ performance stood in stark contrast to that of Rachel Nichols, who was famously demoted by ESPN for expressing frustration over the success experienced by one of her Black colleagues. But more on that later.
Andrews, who at just 26 is the youngest NBA reporter to host the NBA Finals trophy ceremony, was praised widely for interviewing NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Bucks star iannis Antetokounmpo , his coach, Mike Budenholzer, and even some unexpected interlopers reveling in Milwaukee’s victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
As evidenced by past reporters attempting to interview teams following a championship victory, it can be easy to get sidetracked in all the chaos and excitement. Andrews, however, displayed grace and aplomb despite being surrounded by testosterone-filled giant humans eagerly anticipating a Champagne shower in the locker room among other celebrations.
It was in that context that the praise poured in for her. And it came not just from her fellow broadcast media members who were watching Andrews give a masterclass in post-championship game interviewing, but also people from just about every walk of life you can imagine, including NBA players.
The same could not be said for Nichols, who is used to handling the duties that were handed Andrews on Tuesday night.
Instead, Nichols — who earlier this month was outed by the New York Times as a hater in the face of Black excellence at ESPN — was widely criticized for her post-game duties Tuesday night.
That was when she asked Chris Paul, the veteran point guard who led the Suns to the Finals, what it felt like to lose. Critics instantly pointed out that the question was not just in poor taste but also completely tone-deaf to Paul, whose record in the NBA playoffs prior to this year is notably marked by early losses.
“It feels like we just lost,” Paul answered Nichols with a straight face.
Watch the brief but uncomfortable exchange below.
Of course, Nichols could have answered her own question since she lost her job as NBA sideline reporter to Andrews.
Nichols’ demotion came after the New York Times released an audio recording from last year in which she can be heard “venting” to Adam Mendelsohn, an adviser to LeBron James and his agent Rich Paul. Mendelsohn warned Nichols that she should move with caution at ESPN, labeling the network a “snake pit.” In response, Nichols took aim at Maria Taylor, a Black woman who ESPN selected as the face of the NBA Finals lineup.
Nichols went on to suggest that Taylor was only offered the job because she is Black — or, to quote Nichols, because the network was “feeling pressure” over its diversity woes.