Adam Mendelsohn: LeBron James’s rep says Black Lives Matter, Me Too left him 'exhausted'
LeBron James’ PR advisor Adam Mendelsohn has apologized for making blunt comments about Me Too and Black Lives Matter in 2020 while being on call with ESPN's NBA reporter Rachel Nichols. Adam Mendelsohn had reportedly told Nichols, “I’m exhausted. Between Me Too and Black Lives Matter, I got nothing left,” after she complained to him about the network’s choice to choose a Black female colleague, Maria Taylor, to host its NBA coverage in 2020, The New York Times reported.
However, after the news broke out, he told CNBC: “I made a stupid, careless comment rooted in privilege and I am sincerely sorry. I shouldn’t have said it or even thought it. I work to support these movements and know that the people affected by these issues never get to be exhausted or have nothing left. I have to continue to check my privilege and work to be a better ally.”
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In the 2020’s controversial call, Nichols had alleged that Taylor was selected for the job -- which she had expected would be hers -- because of her race. The White reporter had also accused ESPN of tapping Taylor because it was under pressure to have more racial diversity in its team of on-air talent. As per reports, Nichols did not know her conversation had been recorded by a video camera that sent images and audio from her hotel room at a resort at Walt Disney World in Florida to ESPN’s control room in Bristol, Connecticut. From there, the conversation leaked.
Who is Adam Mendelsohn?
According to reports, Mendelsohn, who is White, has been associated with LeBron James for over a decade. He was working with strategy firm Mercury LLC when he was hired by the NBA star. He is also the co-founder of LeBron's Black voter promotion group ‘More Than A Vote’ and serves as its senior advisor.
The group's website says, “More Than a Vote launched in June of 2020 following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and amid the Black Lives Matter protests with the goal of energizing, educating, and protecting Black voters.” ESPN’s Taylor is also a member of the group.
The NYT reported that the July 13, 2020 call between Mendelsohn and Nichols lasted for over 20 minutes. The daily newspaper, however, released only two audio bits online, lasting a total of 2 minutes and 47 seconds. In the call, Nichols told Mendelsohn: “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” before adding: “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
Soon after that Mendelsohn was heard saying, “I don’t know. I’m exhausted. Between Me Too and Black Lives Matter, I got nothing left.” He then went on to criticize ESPN for turning two women against each other. “About how it’s just so very white male for them to turn two women on each other to compete over the one spot that they’re dangling over them. A broader conversation about all the spots that should be under consideration.”
The explosive report comes weeks before Taylor’s contract with ESPN is about to end. Before apologizing, Mendelsohn earlier told The NYT, “I will share what I believed then and still believe to be true. Maria [Taylor] deserved and earned the position, and Rachel [Nichols] must respect it. Maria deserved it because of her work, and ESPN recognized that like many people and companies in America, they must intentionally change. Just because Maria got the job does not mean Rachel shouldn’t get paid what she deserves. Rachel and Maria should not be forced into a zero-sum game by ESPN, and Rachel needed to call them out.”
Mendelsohn also issued a statement to CNBC in which he said, “I will reiterate what I believe, counseled Rachel in the call, and told the Times. Maria deserved and earned the position and Rachel needed to respect it. If Rachel wanted to challenge ESPN, she needed to focus on their overall culture.”